Today, I want to talk about something all ESL students rarely and unwillingly think about, that is their grammar accuracy. This is often with TOEFL students, who tend to struggle with the correct grammar when aiming for a high score on their Speaking section.
However, what's even more difficult than recognizing you have accuracy issues is identifying exact ways to improve and fix.
Luckily, we're here to give you a hand.
Below you can find a program made of four steps which is bound to help you improve your accuracy drastically, in the shortest period. Stay tuned.
The first step is obviously, IDENTIFY.
You need to pick and point the type of grammar mistakes that you make and find the exact error patterns. For some students it's tenses, the other struggle with too many of inadequate prepositions while the third category struggles with definite and indefinite articles.
What kind of grammar mistakes do you make?
It’s impossible to solve a problem before you identify what the precise problem is. So, how to do it finally?
Firstly, your teachers are able to determine and inform you about this. If not already, feel free to ask for their opinion.
Secondly, you can try to do it yourself, by listening to your recordings and noticing directly the kind of mistakes you make.
Lastly, it's important to keep track of your mistakes. Please grab a pen and paper and make sure you note down mistakes and look for repeating patterns. Save the list for every future reference.
Our second step is REVIEW.
Once you have a list of the main grammar errors in your speech, please examine the grammar rules. For example, if you often make mistakes with the Present tense, you need to study and practice the grammar structure of present tense. Make sure you search for rules and exercises for you to practice. Practice makes perfect. The more sentences you form in the given tense the more likely you are to eliminate the mistake in your speech.
You can do this with any English grammar textbook, or you can search online to find out about the grammar rules that you need to review. You can search in your language or English. For example, you might just search “Present tense rules”.
Third step is UNDERSTANDING.
After practicing, when you start feeling comfortable about your grammar structure, the third phase is to test the acquired knowledge. Again, you can do this online again by searching in Google, for example, "Present tense test" or "Present tense quizzes".
There's a vast content online for people to check their grammar accuracy or their grammar understanding. To test your written assignments for example you can use the magnificent "Grammarly" application.
Also, please make sure that you are confident enough, that you understand and can use grammar accurately when you're writing, or at least can recognize it and get past the tests. Every time you take those online tests, for example, you shouldn't have any mistakes. Your results should be impeccable.
Now we come to our final step, USING GRAMMAR.
Once you reach this stage - and it might take some time, hours, days or months for some - the final and most important step requires that you use the grammar.
What you're trying to do is make the grammar structure automatic, so that whenever you're speaking English you don't have to think about grammar structure. This should be a no- brainer if you've previously invested time and effort in learning the correct structures (by heart).
It should come up accurately and naturally. To achieve this, you need to make your own sentences. It will require discipline and it won't be enough to have just one day of practice.
Beware, the grammar mistakes that you make are entrenched so you probably caught them when you were at school. Sometimes the grammar mistakes appear when relying on your native language grammar. Please have in mind we don't use the same expressions are most of the times the rules don't match.
Have in mind that improving the grammar structure is not a fast process; it's not going to happen overnight. You need to account for at least one week of daily practice to notice any kind of progress.
For example, if your problem is Present tense, every day you make 10 sentences using the tense; and then do that for a week.
Dedication is the most problematic part of this approach, besides motivation. For some students it might be really difficult to get them to motivate themselves.
What you could do is make the sentences fun, like sentences that are a bit silly or make you laugh, or sentences about something that happened to you that was funny, only in present tense.
You can do more than one grammar structure so you might start the first week with one grammar structure and then the next week you might add another one so you can potentially do two or three grammar structures, especially if you are short on time and you have a test coming up.
I hope these tips will be of good use to you, and you will find the right motivation to start working on your accuracy today!