Grammar is the backbone of any given language. You might know a lot of words, but you’ll need grammar to communicate. Learning a new grammar can be hard, especially if it’s different from that of your native language. Your brain must work in patterns and directions that it is unfamiliar with. So, how can you study and learn grammar in an effective manner?
When you start to learn grammar, it’s important to use reliable sources that can explain it in a clear manner. If you’re taking classes, you’ve got a great advantage over self-studiers because you can always ask the teacher for clarification! Before you buy a book or start using a new source, flip through it and browse a little. Try reading the descriptions of the grammar points; are they vague or confusing? If so, you might want to look for a different source. Also, if you’re buying a textbook, see if you can find reviews for that book online. What are other people saying about it? If a lot of others find the book too confusing and complicated, you might consider avoiding it as well. Books published by universities and other well-established institutions are usually pretty safe choices.
As for actually learning, taking time to sit down and really understand the grammar point is crucial. Some concepts will be easier to grasp and some will be harder, especially if they don’t have clear counterparts in your native language. Rushing through learning grammar will likely lead you to forgetting things, which will put you at a disadvantage when you progress to things that build upon what you should have already learned. Remember, everyone progresses at his or her own pace. Don’t get frustrated if you think your progress is slow compared to others.
A good way to study grammar is to read the explanation, read examples, and then try to make your own sentences using it. If you have a teacher or a friend who is a native speaker, you can get someone to check to make sure you have understood the grammar correctly. However, be careful when relying on native speaker friends for grammar corrections. Native speakers do not always know the rules underlying their language.
Once you have learned a grammar point, it is vital to practice it to ensure you can remember and use it in the future when needed. Take some time every day to write practice sentences. If you have a language exchange partner or some other way of communicating with native speakers (or just other speakers, even if they are non-native) of your target language, try to work your new grammar into the conversation when appropriate. By using what you have learned regularly, you will become used to using it and will find using it becomes easier and easier over time.
It really is important to find native speakers or a teacher to practice with, as they can help correct any errors you make. It’s a bit unfortunate to learn and use a grammar point and think you had it down well only for someone to tell you months later that you have been misusing it all along! If there are no native speakers of your target language nearby you, you can always try sites like SharedLingo, Lang-8, various language sub-Reddits, and more to find some help. The most important thing to remember is that you should not be afraid to make mistakes! When learning something as complex as a new language, they are bound to happen. That’s how we learn!
Maintaining your grasp of various grammar points more or less means continuing to practice and use the grammar regularly so you don’t forget it and can use it easily. This is especially important for less commonly used grammatical forms that you wouldn’t often get a chance to use. You can do this simply by watching TV shows, reading books, or chatting with others, though you can also continue to do targeted practice like writing sentences. Whatever you feel will help you best remember the grammar into the future!