Education - Languages
By: - at April 22, 2013

Top Five Reasons Students Commit the Same Grammar Mistakes

Writing in classroomStudents who commit the same grammar mistakes despite incessant drills, review, and usage of grammar rules in examples often leave language teachers wondering. Despite the multitude of activities, repetition of lessons, or even the use of tutorials, there are always students who would eventually say or write something like “She have a fever”. Upon reading or hearing this, the teacher might be startled and even start to reflect on the effectiveness of his or her teaching strategy. There absolutely is no exact solution to this as students learn differently from each other. Fortunately, looking at underlying reasons might help students stay on track and stop making mistakes.

Here are the top five reasons students commit the same grammar mistake:

1)  Over-generalizations of Rules
Writing on chalkboardWhen students learn the rules of grammar, they might think one rule would apply to many different situations. Learners tend to miss the exceptions of usage in language. In the process of learning grammar, there seems to be a point when students, both native and non-native, would overextend usage. When studying tenses of the verbs, for example, students would most likely use, over extended period of time, a certain tense in any given context. This would probably continue until the day a new tense is introduced. It is then the role of the teacher to provide practice of the points learned weeks or even months after they were discussed. Doing this, the teacher can concentrate on correcting mistakes that caused the confusion, and thus help decrease the amount of grammar mistakes students are making.

2)  Considering Grammar as Less Important
Many learners put lesser priority in using grammatically correct sentences thinking that the ability to convey meaning and to be understood should come first. When a student uttered an idea and received the kind of feedback sought despite the grammar mistake, it might be concluded that the message was correctly organized. This gives them the feeling that learning and following correct grammar rules can be postponed and should not be given much effort for the moment. For many, perfect grammar is not necessary for successful communication. To be more effective, the teacher has to correct the mistakes by comparing the messages conveyed when the sentence is grammatically correct or not.

3)  Grammar Lessons do not Match Language Levels
In many language classes, students may appear to be equal in their understanding of a language, but actually vary in their abilities This means that some may be good at speaking but challenged in writing, or excellent at reading yet are having difficulty with listening exercises. In most cases, many class members might find grammar the most difficult, no matter how good they are at the macro skills. There is evidence that says language learners pick-up grammar and eventually halt making mistakes in usage at different periods given different exposure levels. For example, there are students who are quick at getting the concept of using “s” in the third person, always understanding the rules and the exceptions. This does not apply to all class members though. Some rules, no matter how simple, might be misinterpreted by students.

4)  Confusion with L1 and L2 Grammar
Students who are speakers of languages with a similar structure to the target language often learn faster than those whose first language exhibits no likeness. When students are not proficient enough, they tend to find equivalents in their native tongue to convey a message in the target language. Learning grammar is especially challenging if students speak a particular dialect at home. When the learner’s L1 is not widely understood by educators, students are most likely unable to find help promptly and learn grammar as quickly as others. Consequently, students who are caught in the middle of having to learn the target language by force do not find any relevance in the learning process. This causes them to stay away from learning the second language.

5)  Having to Negotiate for Understanding
With the diversity of the classroom and the effort to get understood when using the target language, students are most likely to alter structure and negotiate meanings. In most cases, the learners attempt to communicate informally to a classmate or a friend whose native tongue differs from his own. This results in using sentences that are not grammatically correct to achieve communication. When done regularly, the student might get used to the structures and ultimately consider it correct and acceptable. When left unsupervised and uncorrected, the student’s preference to make sentences without following the rules of grammar gets fossilized and becomes even more difficult to change.

Summing Up
Teachers are often challenged in making students learn language successfully. Despite their efforts, however, there seems to be a good number of students who continue to commit the same grammar mistakes no matter how often they get corrected. In this age of modernity, we tend to communicate via keyboards more than verbally. Computers have auto corrections available. With many underlying reasons affecting the ability to apply linguistic structures, it is quite difficult to point specific reasons students commit mistakes in grammar. Language is considered to be mainly for communicative purposes and straying from standard usage leads to a poor ability to comprehend and difficulty developing writing skills. Proper use of grammar ensures that we interpret the information correctly the way the communicators intended.





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