English grammar is hard to learn – even native English speakers don’t always know all the rules! But, even though grammar can be difficult, it’s also an important part of learning English as a second language and preparing for success at a Canadian university.
Whether you need to write an essay, read an article, or explain an important concept in a presentation, you’ll need to understand grammar to complete the task.
Grammar helps structure sentences so that their meaning is clear.
For example, this sentence invites grandma to join the family for dinner: “Let’s eat, grandma!”
But in this sentence, a mistake in grammar completely changes the meaning: “Let’s eat grandma!” (a missing comma makes grandma the main dish).
While these mistakes can be funny, they show just how much grammar impacts the meaning of what we say and write in English.
Want to improve your grammar skills? Here are four simple tips to get started with.
1. Practise Writing in English Whenever You Can
Every time you learn a new grammar rule in your esl program, try it out with sentences you create yourself – in a journal, an email to a friend, or a social media post. This way, you’ll feel more confident applying the rule in conversations and class work.
Go beyond grammar exercises like fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice questions!
2. Read, Read, Read
The more you read in English, the more examples you will see of how grammar is used in context. You don’t need to read long, complicated books to see grammar in action. Simple short stories or news articles are fine.
Write down any questions that come up, and check for answers with your ESL instructor or grammar work book.
3. Challenge Yourself While Talking With Friends
Conversations can be a great way to practise new grammar rules. Try using a tense you’re not as comfortable with, and finding a way to work it into a conversation with your friends.
For example, the next time your friends join you for breakfast, scare them by saying “I have eaten all the pancakes.” Not only will you get to practise the “present perfect” tense (which is one of the hardest tenses to master), but you might trick your friends into thinking they have missed out on a favourite Canadian treat!
4. Ask Your Instructor for Extra Help
Not sure you understand a new grammar rule, even after it was explained in class? Just ask your instructor for a few more examples. Intensive English programs like CultureWorks hire only the best, friendliest instructors, which means they’re ready to work with you one-on-one to make sure you understand each new concept.
You can write a few sentences using the new grammar rule, and ask your teacher to check them – and also have a short conversation to make sure you understand how to apply the rule in conversation.
Interested in taking English courses for the University of Ontario or another one of CultureWorks’ partner institutions?
Visit us to learn more about how we help international students prepare for university.