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  • Hi, I'm Olivier.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn how to improve your English grammar.

  • To some people, 'grammar' is kind of a dirty word.

  • It probably makes you think of boring textbooks, boring exercises, and boring lessons.

  • Maybe you think, “Why do I need grammar?

  • I just want to communicate.”

  • But, here's the thing: grammar isn't just something in a book.

  • Grammar is how you connect words into phrases, and phrases into sentences.

  • Every time you connect two words, you're using grammar.

  • Even now, you're using grammar to understand what we're saying.

  • We think there's a better way to learn English grammar than just doing endless exercises.

  • In this lesson, you'll see a step-by-step, practical plan to improve your English grammar

  • in any area.

  • To work on grammar, it's a good idea to have a book for reference.

  • One of the most popular is English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy.

  • You can find a link under the video.

  • So, let's start: you want to improve your English grammar.

  • What should you do first?

  • 'English grammar' is not just one topic.

  • It's tens of major topics, and each of those contains tens of smaller topics.

  • So, you need to know where to begin.

  • You need to set goals and establish priorities for your studies.

  • How can you do that?

  • Let's start with five things.

  • Make a list of five errors or grammar problems you have.

  • Maybe, you already know some errors you make.

  • Maybe your teacher corrects you or your classmates often, and you have an idea.

  • A good way to do this is through writing.

  • Write something for your teacher, and ask them to highlight and correct your grammar

  • mistakes.

  • See which mistakes you make most often.

  • If you aren't studying with a teacher, what can you do?

  • This can be more difficult.

  • One suggestion: use a grammar book which has exercises and an answer key.

  • Choose five topics which you think you will find difficult.

  • Do the exercises and check your answers.

  • If you made a lot of mistakes, then you know you need to do more work on these topics.

  • Here's another suggestion: find a reading text, for example a news article online.

  • Make sure the text is not too difficult for you.

  • Read the text two to three times.

  • Next, try to rewrite the text without looking at it.

  • Don't worry about getting it perfect; just do your best.

  • Afterwards, compare your text with the original.

  • Where did you make mistakes?

  • Did you make mistakes with verb forms?

  • With adverbs?

  • Word order?

  • This should show you where some of your grammar mistakes are.

  • Okay, hopefully now you have a list of five grammar errors or weaknesses.

  • It could look like this:

  • Using the present perfect Word order in questions

  • Using commas correctly Mixing up adjectives and adverbs

  • Prepositions after adjectives

  • Be as specific as you can with your list.

  • Writing something like 'verbs' or 'prepositions' isn't really helpful.

  • Now, you have your list.

  • What's next?

  • If you have a problem with a grammar topic, there can be two basic reasons: form or function.

  • The first possibility is that you don't know how to form a structure correctly.

  • For example, think about the present perfect verb tense: I have done

  • To form the present perfect, you need to know several things, such as:

  • Use 'have' or 'has' plus a past participle Make negatives with 'haven't' or 'hasn't'

  • Make questions by moving 'have' or 'has' before the subject

  • If you don't know these rules well, you might make mistakes like these:

  • She have been to Cambodia.

  • I don't have finished.

  • How long they have lived here?

  • Can you correct these mistakes?

  • Often, problems with form are habits.

  • You say and write the wrong sentence hundreds of times, and then it's hard to change it.

  • The only way to correct these habits is to repeat and review the correct form many, many

  • times.

  • The best way to do that?

  • Use a flashcard app like Quizlet.

  • We'll talk about this in more detail later.

  • Or, maybe you don't know the correct form.

  • If so, use your grammar book to check.

  • Problems with form are simpler to understand, but sometimes they take a long time to fix,

  • especially if your mistakes have become deep habits.

  • You heard before that there are two basic reasons you could have problems with a grammar

  • topic.

  • What's the other?

  • The other possibility is that you don't understand the function.

  • What does that mean?

  • 'Function' means how a grammar structure is used, and what meaning it has.

  • For example, think again about the present perfect verb tense.

  • To use the present perfect correctly, you need to know things like:

  • Use the present perfect to talk about states which started in the past and are still true

  • now.

  • Don't use the present perfect to talk about finished times in the past.

  • Use the present perfect to talk about life experiences when you don't specify a time.

  • Of course, there are more!

  • These are just examples.

  • If you don't understand these rules, you might make mistakes like these:

  • I am living here since four years.

  • We've had lunch three hours ago.

  • Have you ever been to Japan last year?

  • Can you correct these mistakes?

  • Often, problems with function are problems with translation.

  • Maybe your language doesn't have this grammar structure, or maybe your language expresses

  • expresses these ideas in a different way.

  • If you have problems with the function of a grammar structure, what can you do?

  • First, check the rules in your grammar book and try to find example sentences.

  • Think about how you would express the same ideas in your language.

  • Secondly, think about how this grammar works in your language.

  • Do you have the same structure?

  • Do you use it in the same way?

  • The most difficult grammar topics will often be things which don't exist in your language.

  • For example, many languages don't have an exact equivalent to the present perfect in

  • English, which is why so many English learners find this verb tense particularly difficult.

  • However, thinking about the differences between your language and English can help to make

  • things clearer.

  • Okay, so now you've found your mistakes and thought about where they come from.

  • What next?

  • You're going to see one of the most powerful learning tools you can use.

  • Even better, it's simple!

  • Anyone can use it.

  • It's called templating.

  • Templating means you take part of a sentence, and finish it in different ways.

  • Let's stick with the example of the present perfect.

  • Here's an unfinished sentence:

  • I have never

  • Your job is to finish the sentence in five different ways.

  • Make them as different as possible.

  • Here's one example:

  • I have never eaten snake.

  • Can you make one or two more?

  • Think about it now.

  • You could make sentences like:

  • I have never been to New Zealand.

  • I have never seen 'Titanic'.

  • Try to make sentences which are true for you.

  • This way, they'll be more meaningful and easier to remember.

  • Remember: you need five sentences for each template.

  • That means you need to think of at least two more!

  • Think of two more things you've never done, and write them down.

  • Let's look at some more templates you could use to practice the present perfect:

  • I havethis week.

  • I haven't … yet today.

  • have/has been livingfor … I've beenrecently.

  • Myhassince

  • Can you see how you could complete these templates?

  • Think about it.

  • Pause the video if you want more time.

  • Let's see some possibilities:

  • I've watched this video three times this week.

  • I haven't had coffee yet today.

  • My sister has been living in Milan for three years.

  • I've been reading a lot of Chekhov recently.

  • My wife has been a doctor since 2005.

  • Of course, these are just suggestions!

  • You should write sentences which are true for you.

  • Also, remember that you should try to write five sentences for each template.

  • If you can't think of five, write as many as you can.

  • You can use this to practice any grammar topic.

  • For example, here are three templates you could use to practice using must, have to

  • and should:

  • At work, we mustn't … Tomorrow, I have to

  • If you want to learn English quickly, you should

  • Here are three templates you could use to practice talking about the future:

  • Tonight, I'm … For my next vacation, we're going to

  • Next year, I hope I'll

  • You see,

  • you can use this to practice anything.

  • Why should you use this method?

  • What makes it so powerful?

  • It's powerful because you're learning grammar through real-life examples.

  • Also, you're learning grammar in full sentences.

  • Finally, this lets you practice your vocabulary, too!

  • You have one more thing to do here.

  • You need to make sure your templated sentences are correct.

  • You're going to use these templates to practice and learn.

  • If you have any mistakes in your sentences, you'll just create bad habits which will

  • be difficult to change in the future.

  • So, ask your teacher, ask a friend, or ask on an online forum.

  • Make sure your sentences are correct.

  • Now, you're ready for step four.

  • Flashcard apps like Quizlet or Anki are a great way to review and remember grammar when you're learning English.

  • Both of these apps are mostly free to use, although the Anki app for IoS costs money.

  • Our staff and our students have had good results with both these apps.

  • There are others available, and you should probably try different ones and see which

  • one you like best!

  • You can find links underneath the video.

  • So, why do you need an app like this?

  • Using a flashcard app will help you to remember more of what you study and practice.

  • How can you do this?

  • First, you can make questions using your template sentences.

  • Put one or two gaps in a sentence and make a question, like this:

  • Do you remember the answer?

  • You can also make a question with a mistake which you make frequently.

  • The answer is the corrected sentence.

  • For example:

  • Correct the mistake: I just have had a shower.

  • Can you correct the mistake?

  • I've just had a shower.

  • The word order was wrong.

  • Put the correct sentence as your answer.

  • So, there are two kinds of cards you can make: gapped sentences and error correction.

  • You can make gapped sentence cards easier or harder by leaving out different numbers

  • of words.

  • For example:

  • My sister has ________ ________ in Milan for three years.

  • Or: My sister ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ three years.

  • You might be thinking: this sounds like a lot of work!

  • Do I really have to make my own cards?

  • Do I have to do this for every grammar topic I study?

  • No, you don't have to, but you should.

  • Here's why:

  • First, you should make your own cards so that you're using your own examples.

  • Your own examples should mean something to you.

  • They're real; they're about you and your life.

  • This makes them easier to remember.

  • Secondly, you should spend the time to make your own cards because it will save you time

  • later.

  • If you review efficiently, you can remember seventy to eighty percent of what you learn.

  • If you don't, you'll forget most of what you study, and then you'll have to do it

  • again in the future.

  • So, spending time now will save you a lot more time in the future.

  • Not only that: isn't it frustrating when you can't remember something you've studied

  • tens of times?

  • It's demotivating, and that's a problem.

  • You need to be motivated to learn English!

  • Using flashcards and templating will help you to remember more of what you study.

  • This will give you motivation, because you'll feel that you're making more progress.

  • Finally, make sure you review your cards every day, or as often as possible.

  • Review your cards when you have a spare moment during the day.

  • For example, do them before you get up in the morning, or on the subway to work,

  • or during a break.

  • Now, you have a four-step process to improve your English grammar:

  • Step one: identify and write down your weaknesses.

  • Start with five topics maximum.

  • The topics you write down should be as specific as possible.

  • Step two: identify the mistakes you make and the problems you have.

  • Do you have problems with the form, or the function, or both?

  • Use a grammar book to check, or ask a teacher.

  • Step three: make templates, and write five full sentences for each template.

  • The sentences should be real: write true sentences about you and your life.

  • Check your sentences carefully and make sure they're correct.

  • Step four: take your sentences and make them into flashcards.

  • You can make gapped sentences or