Vocabulary! No, Grammar! The Great Language Debate!

Only an debate like this one could pull me out of my book-writing cave to post my two cents! Actually, I’ve been meaning to write this one for awhile now as I continue to see both sides dive into mortal combat with each other over this very topic. Well, buckle up. This is my personal take on the Vocabulary vs. Grammar controversy.
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I Have All the Language Toys! – Now What?

     If you’re like me, you are probably super excited about learning a language. You probably also enjoy what I call “The resource round-up”. What is the “resource round-up”? It’s that exciting stage right BEFORE you dive into learning a new language when you scrounge for resources to help propel your learning to new heights. I’ll talk about how to do a proper round-up in a future post.

     For now, let’s assume you are all “resourced up” and ready to explode! I’ll paint the picture. You’ve got a dozen free language websites in your favorites with all the vocabulary lists, grammar points, common phrases, native audio, and encouragement you could ever possibly want. You’ve gone on an shopping spree and now you have 6 or 8 or 20 new books including multiple courses, vocabulary books, dictionaries, verb guides, and who knows what else because you really haven’t looked them over that well yet. Maybe you’ve downloaded some podcasts, audio courses, or even some simple audiobooks. Maybe your bookshelf looks something like one of mine:

my shelf     Maybe it looks like a less (or even more) extreme version of mine.  Basically, we are assuming that you are 100% totally geared and psyched up to drive your shelf into Language World and kick some major butt.  You’ve got the firepower.  You’ve got the attitude and the confidence.  You’ve got the desire.  What’s stopping you?

     Oh yeah…  What do I do now?  I always run into this too.  Honestly, it doesn’t get much easier the more languages you know.  I’ve never started two languages the exact same way.  No two languages are the same, why should the methods be?

You may be saying “Great advice Sherlock, what am I supposed to do now?”  Well, bear with me for a little while longer and I will have you ready to move on from “Resource Round-up” to “Language Launch” in a matter of minutes. Read More

Grammar! – No wait, don’t go. It’ll be fun…

We all knew it was coming, the dreaded “grammar” post.  I promise this won’t be anything like actually studying grammar (unless you’re into that sort of thing…)  Ok, hopefully I haven’t scared everyone away because I think there is going to be some great stuff in this post.

So far, we’ve touched on vocabulary and phonemes.  We have words, which have assigned meanings.  We have a standardized way to convert those words into sounds.  What are we missing?  Yes, rules.  That’s all grammar is.  Rules for assembling words into a consistent comprehensible message that can be used to communicate.  Or, as the dictionary defines it:


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