Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

My Rosetta Stone Blog - 6 Grammar Drill Driven Language Learning

Latin American Spanish Level 1 Unit 2, Core Lesson (30 minutes)

Unless your goal is to decipher old texts, you're probably learning a language so you can speak with others. Like, have a conversation, talk about things, find things out...

I've now done six RS lessons. So, what am I learning?

In this lesson I learned the words for immediate family members ("mother, father, son, daughter brother"), as well as "friend" and "wife." Those are useful.
But the endless sequences of having to identify the pictures for sentences such as "a man and a dog, a woman and her dog"; "a girl and a horse, a man and his cat" [to learn the difference between "a" and "her/his" etc.] This was followed by such sequences as: "this is my son, this is my brother, this is my bicycle, these are my brothers" etc, etc," [to learn the difference between between the different forms of "this" and "these."
The whole Core Lesson is made up of similar grammar driven material. For those who own the course, you can check out the rest of the grammar drills.

I see an interesting dilemma opening up: On the one hand, grammar is the organizing factor for the words and sentences that I'm learning; on the other hand, all this grammar practice is not tied to any meaningful communication.
For example, near the end of the lesson, I see a picture, and I learn "You are my friend."
The next pictures teach: "You are my doctor" and "You are my wife." How often will I be saying that?!

Grammar has its place in language learning, for sure. Some people really want to understand how sentences are put together and what makes a language tick. It's a fun puzzle for them.

But others may suffer from (school related) grammar burn-out. They want to let their brain figure things out intuitively. Either way, if a meaningful context is missing, grammar driven learning doesn't cut it.

I've spent a full 3 hours (and more) learning Spanish.
I have mastered a number of sentences describing what other people are doing ("the boys are eating, the women are reading"), but I can't yet have a simple, meaningful conversation with a Spanish-speaking friend.
Well, I can tell her "You are my friend." At least that's a start.

Back to Blog #1: How Useful is the Vocab?