Most of these articles are in the Not To Grammar group, which is interesting as I am in the “at least at first, if you want to, and I do, To Grammar” group. Yes, perhaps I’m in the minority with the latest crazes running through the language learning community… I don’t believe in “memorizing” grammar, but I do think, at least in the beginning, grammar learning IS a help and I can’t imagine learning Japanese as quickly as I have without initially learning how sentences are put together compared to English.
This being said, I am open to all forms of learning, and thus I have read these articles with much interest. Here is one interesting point that is made.
I’m trying not to, but when there is a pause, I can hear my mind translating. I wish I hadn’t studied Chinese. Not even a little bit. For words I have never looked up, I don’t automatically translate them. Translations are like an anchor. They slow you down.
This is in regards to watching Chinese TV.
I sort of think of this like learning Kanji via first Remembering the Kanji. First you are learning things via an English keyword. However, as your Japanese advances, you forget the keyword and just see/read the Kanji in Japanese with the Japanese word/reading in your head.
The point in the above quote is that learning grammar makes you translate things in your head. And translation = bad. Yes, you will get to the stage when translation is harder than just understanding… But in the beginning, I just can’t picture what it would be like not to translate.
Maybe I’m not advanced enough in Japanese to have a qualified opinion (and well, it will be interesting to see if my opinion changes over time, which is one reason I’m writing on this site!) but I have a hard time imagining how a beginner can learn a language, especially one so different from English as Japanese, without some how translating at least in the beginning.
Yes, for words like “よろしく” there is no direct translation. For most words and concepts there will be different nuances and way of expressing… If you understand that the translation isn’t going to be direct but just a suggestion, then you will be fine. With greater exposure you will gradually become aware of the different nuances of the word/concept and forget about the translation. I would perhaps argue if you are still translating something it is just because you haven’t had enough exposure to it yet…
That being said, I am what I think of as a “nuts and bolts” person. I like to know how stuff gets put together. I find that I understand things better when I know where they have come from/how they are made. I am not one of those people that can just go to the movies and not analyse aspects of it. I still enjoy my movies, in fact I gain a deeper appreciation of movies when I do analyse… This being said, I readily accept that other people are not like this.
THUS… I get to my point…
Grammar is good for some people, Grammar is not good for others
Don’t rule something out because other people tell you to! Grammar may be the devil incarnate to some people, but for me it is a useful tool in my quest to learn Japanese.
However, this was said on Confessions of a Language Addict:
But the more I play with Assimil programs, phrasebooks and Pimsleur, the more convinced I am that the way you master grammatical patterns is to say a lot of sentences the right way and let your brain do the grammar processing based on habits formed rather than through deliberate conscious processing.
Yes, this! I have to say, I agree with the whole article. I don’t think I could have said it better myself. Grammar (to me) is important in decoding language, but when I am speaking in Japanese, I’m not worried about what particle to say when, I just speak. Yes, I know I’m rubbish, but I’ll get better.
The thing is, don’t worry about it too much. I don’t memorize it, I don’t know grammar terms so I’m not into really analyzing it… It just helps me understand things which were once abstract into becoming something comprehensible…