Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Happy National Grammar Day!

Grammar Matters  
Tomorrow, March 4th, is National Grammar Day, and thousands of grammar lovers around the world will be celebrating the beauty of the well-constructed sentence. 

An increasing number of people think grammar doesn't matter - especially as English becomes an increasingly global language.  Lately, I've been reading English Language instruction blogs that make statements such as the following, "If you really want to learn how to speak English, you should forget about grammar and simply concentrate on listening to other people."  or "Learning too much grammar actually gets in the way of your ability to speak English." 

I wish this were true. If it were, it would save you years of having to learn how to use English verb tenses, use correct English word order, or how to use structures such as adverb and noun clauses to convey complex ideas. Unfortunately it is is not true. Without a good knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, you will continue to sound like the people in the cartoon below. . 

If you are still in the process of improving your English. you and your teachers will constantly struggle between whether you should focus on fluency or accuracy. But, the fact remains BOTH fluency AND accuracy matter. You will need to practice both, and need to pay attention to both.

You may not need to use good grammar if you are only planning to visit an English-speaking country for a week or two. But, if you want to go to an English university, or live, work and prosper in an English speaking country, you will have to know how to use grammar properly. Even if you want to stay in your own country, and do business in English, you will need some knowledge of grammar. 

Why is Grammar Important?
Knowledge of grammar is bridge to communicatio
Along with vocabulary, grammar is the essential tool that that allows us to put words together into simple or complex thoughts. In other words, grammar offers us the building blocks to communicate real ideas that actually mean something. Without grammar, we have word salad, where all the ingredients are separate. We all use grammar every time we speak or write, We also use it to help us understand what we are listening to, or what we are reading. We just don't realize that we're doing it. We would, however, notice that something was wrong if we heardor read sentences such as these:"I am giving the patient his medicine last night,"  or "The room entered the boy quietly."  

Of course as new learners of English, you are aware of grammar and its many rules and exceptions. For many of you, it is the most boring part of learning English. But, try thinking of it as the bridge between your being able to understand only a small amount of the English around you versus almost all of it . . 
Lisa McLendon has written an excellent article on  Why We Need Grammar that expresses my feelings about the importance of grammar. If you want to understand why it is so necessary in your life, I recommend that you read it. 

In  meantime, let's get back to the whole idea of celebrating Grammar Day in a positive way. Visit National Grammar Day hosted by Mignon Fogarty. the author of several books as well as the popular Grammar Girl blog for all sorts of fun grammar facts, activities, poetry, a free-card, and a terrific interactive calendar with explanations for some of the more confusing issues.
.Grammar Girl  regularly has podcasts on a variety of grammar issues that many of you would enjoy, so while you visit her site, check out some of her pod casts. 

Also, enjoy the Grammar song "March Forth"  ( This is a play on the words March fourth).

Here is a copy of the lyriucs to the grammar song  and a  quiz on the Grammar song. 

Also, I know that many of you are struggling with when to use or not use the apostrophe.  Here's a lovely song, called the Apostrophe Song that will help you remember the rules. 


Finally, how do you feel about the following questions?

1.   Do do you think grammar is important in speaking?  Why?  

2.    How do you think you can improve your spoken grammar? 

Please reply in the comment box below. Simply click on the word comment, write yojr opiunion, preview it to proofread and make corrections. When you go to the POST AS box, scroll down to the bottom to name and URL. You do not need to have a URL, all you need to do is type in your name. Of course, if you do have a link, please include it.

If you do not know how to post a comment, read the post HOW TO LEAVE A COMMENT on the right hand side. 


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