Without Grammar?

This morning I woke up and took my girlfriend to go to her English class on An Duong Vuong Street District 5 in Saigon. From there, I went straight to my student’s home to teach. When I just took off my shoes and greeted Lan’s husband Huong, he smiled with me and asked me ” isn’t it Thursday today?” Oh, Gosh. Yeah, it is. It’s Thursday and I don’t have any class with Lan today. I thought it was Friday. That’s bad after I spent about an hour riding on the motorbike just to know that how absent-minded I am.

I’ve work as a English tutor with that student for about nine months now. She and her husband and their two children are in the process of getting their Immigration Documents to go  live in Texas. She said she has relatives in L.A. and Texas or something and she would like to go there to meet them more often and want their children to have better education and future.

Her husband doesn’t seem like to go live there at all. He’s a music teacher and he can earn a lot of money – of course to most people in Vietnam or even in Saigon. Saigon is the most expensive city in Vietnam. He can earn two thousand dollars  even in Vietnam and would prefer to stay in Saigon after his wife and children would come there  and support them 1,500USD a month and live on the remaining 500 bucks. He doesn’t want to start it over.

It’s a nice teaching experience with Lan. Not because her English is good, but it’s just because she had no ideas about English before I started to work with her. In Vietnam, it’s better for you to teach a foreign language to the ones knowing nothing about it rather than those who know SOME thing about it. Usually, they’re crammed with the wrong useless and misleading knowledge about the language. Usually doesn’t mean all. I know there’re other teachers or language centers do a good job.

The students new to the language are often taught grammar and other nonsense stuffs even before they open their mouths to generate a real sentence. There’re so many grammar points taught and a great number of exercises assigned but little or none of the listening and speaking skill applied to produce the language. I’ve made some surveys myself about that just to see that high school graduates after seven years studying English can’t make it to the third sentence by an American. Yes, they’ve studied English for SEVEN years and can speak none.

Luckily, Lan doesn’t have anything like that. She’s been shown how to say a word, a phrase and sentence in English and listen to how they sound before she could have any ideas about grammar. She said that her daughter, a senior high school girl, sometimes shows her some but she couldn’t understand nothing about it. It’s so complicated to her and she didn’t have clear enough explanations. I replied to her that it’s better not to know them before you begin to speak and listen in English. She’ll learn some grammar some day but not now, before she can generate the language and hear how it’s spoken in reality.

Start with reproduce the language first, not to analyze it.


2 thoughts on “Without Grammar?

  1. It is not uncommon to find people who has studied English for years but can’t produce an English sentence with correct grammar. In the city I live (which is Hong Kong), you will often hear people mingle English with Cantonese when they actually are speaking Cantonese. I know sometimes it is unavoidable to have such a mixture. But it is just this kind of mixture that results in a poor standard of both English and Chinese. But the fact is no one seems to care…

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