JLPT BC 43 | Can’t Live without my Japanese Grammar

Learning Japanese GrammarOver the last few months, I’ve been working with Memrise.com on creating some official decks to be used with their system. These decks are a bit of a mix of several word lists that are available online as well as a few JLPT apps that I have. I’ve combined them all together and hand checked the words in these decks to make sure they are accurate and appropriate. I also made an Anki version available that you might want to check out.

I’ve started to play test the deck and have to say it is really useful. I’m looking forward to the changes they are planning on making to Memrise.com over the next couple of weeks in order to implement all of the new features. I’m also still interested in hearing any feedback you have on the decks, so that we can make the best decks possible to study.

Grammar is Absolutely Necessary

In last week’s episode, I argued against using Japanese grammar to learn the language. I went over how grammar textbooks are a waste of time and instead you should be learning all of your grammar from complete immersion in the language.

That is one opinion on how to best learn a language, but today, I’m going to argue the other side of that argument. Today, I’ll be firmly in the pro-grammar camp, which is sometimes considered a bit of a traditional way to study a language, but it has its merits. Doing grammar drills or completing grammar exercises in your workbook might not be your idea of fun, but it can help you learn and use a language well.

Adults Learn Differently than a Baby

The argument for not studying grammar specifically is usually that babies don’t learn grammar explicitly, so why should you? But, this is a bit flawed because as adults, we learn things completely differently. Since we have a lot of previous knowledge with us already about our language as well as the ability to already speak a language, we can use those as tools to learn another language.

Recent studies actually demonstrate that babies might learn how to use a language not by tons of exposure, but actually just one clear example of the use of the grammar or vocabulary word. This makes a lot more sense than the alternative that babies are actually using lots of examples of the particular grammar point or vocabulary word to make an educate guess at its meaning.

So, if babies learn a new word or grammar point from one clear example of its usage, then why can’t you shortcut that process by just reading and using a lot of clear examples along with a set of rules to help you when you encounter the grammar in the future? Wouldn’t this be simpler?

You CAN Pick up Grammar through Textbooks

Yes, it is indeed possible to learn how to use and understand grammar from a textbook. Granted most textbooks give you very generic ‘safe’ examples, but these will prepare you for more difficult examples of the grammar point in the future. You just have to extrapolate the grammar rules.

If you have issues with a particular grammar point, you can still go and ask your teacher or tutor to clarify what is going on in the sentence. Also you can try your own ideas with the grammar point as well. The important thing is to not just drill through the textbook, but instead get out and use the grammar that you’ve learned that day.

Drilling might be a little boring and dull, but it’ll give you the confidence you need to use the grammar when you need it. Also, you’ll be a lot more confident answering test questions after you’ve drilled it enough to be confident in it. This will help you speed through the test and answer the questions quicker.

Go Ahead and Say It

Do you love grammar? Do you think studying grammar from a grammar textbook is the way to go? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. Can’t get enough Japanese grammar? Then, sign up the newsletter to get more info on how to study effectively sent free to your mailbox.

P.S.S. Are you a grammar fanatic? Great, go tell iTunes about it.  Or if you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, by all means let me know in the comments below or contact me and let me know what I can do to improve the show.  Thanks!

Music by Kevin MacLeod

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