Most of us tend to memorize new words and increase our vocabulary when we are on the exciting journey of learning a new language. Knowing many different words helps to express ourselves but let’s face it, if we don’t have a clear understanding of the grammar, we are not going to get very far. Grammar is the backbone of a language and it’s extremely important to truly understand the structure of a language. Although memorizing words seems to be easier and more fun, I can tell out of experience that the best way to go is to study grammar and learn words at the same time!
When you are on a trip and you want to ask local people what the best hotspot is to visit or what route you should take, you want to make sure that your sentences are correct and understandable. When I was taking Portuguese classes in Brazil, memorizing words was pretty fun but when the Brazilian family that I was staying with organized a dinner and the dad started asking me questions about my country, I stumbled and I couldn’t answer them. It was pretty frustrating to understand the questions and although I really wanted to tell them more about my Turkish/ Dutch background, the words didn’t come. I knew some awesome words in Portuguese that sounded cool but creating a sentence seemed to be impossible. I realized that I needed to get a clear understanding of Brazilian Portuguese grammar so I could use the tenses in the right way and express myself correctly.
Now I’m not saying that you should be careful to not make any mistakes. Mistakes are perfectly fine when you are learning a language that’s not your native language. We should even embrace mistakes since they allow us to get out of our comfort zone and improve our language skills. Just make sure that you focus as much on grammar knowledge like verbs and tenses as memorizing new words. Stay tuned for my next posts where I will share practical, yet powerful techniques to memorize new words and internalize grammar knowledge. It’s about small wins everyday, stay motivated and enjoy the journey!