Languages › English as a Second Language Tips for Mastering English Grammar Share Flipboard Email Print Hero Images/Getty Images English as a Second Language Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated April 25, 2019 English grammar is said to be one of the most difficult to learn for native foreign-language speakers especially because of its countless rules and numerous exceptions to them. However, many English as an Alternative Language (EAL) teachers has developed methods to help these English grammar learners through the process of understanding proper usage and style. If students follow simple, repetitive steps to understand each new element of grammar, some linguists note, they will eventually pick up on the understanding of those rules, though English learners must be careful not to forget about rules and exceptions in particular circumstances. As a result, one of the best ways to learn proper English grammar for foreign learners is to read several example sentences in grammar textbooks in order to experience every possible variation of each grammar rule. This ensures that despite the commonly held principles associated with each instance, new learners will also experience when English, as it often does, breaks the rules. Practice Makes Perfect When learning any new skill, the old adage "practice makes perfect" really does hold true, especially when it comes to understanding and applying proper English grammar skills; however, improper practice makes for an improper performance, so it's important for English learners to fully grasp grammar rules and exceptions before practicing usage themselves. Each element of usage and style must be looked at and mastered individually before applying in conversation or writing to ensure that new learners grasp core concepts. Some EAL teachers recommend following these three steps: Read a short clear easily understandable explanation of a grammar rule.Study several practical usage examples (sentences) illustrating that particular grammar rule. Check yourself whether you have mastered the examples.Do several exercises for that rule with communicative content with sentences that most likely can be used in real life situations. Grammar exercises that contain dialogues, interrogative and statement (or narrative) sentences on everyday topics, thematic texts and narrative stories are especially effective for mastering grammatical structures and should also include listening comprehension and speaking, not just reading and writing. Challenges and Longevity in Mastering English Grammar EAL teachers and new learners alike should keep in mind that true mastery or even understanding of English grammar takes years to develop, which isn't to say that students won't be able to use English fluently fairly quickly, but rather that proper grammar is challenging even for native English speakers. Still, learners cannot rely on real-life communication alone to be proficient in using grammatically correct English. Only understanding spoke or colloquial English has a tendency to result in misuse and improper grammar for non-native English speakers, who often omit words articles like "the" and to-be verbs like "are" when trying to say "Did you see the movie?" and instead of saying "you see the movie?" Correct oral communication in English is based on knowledge of English phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, and on practice and experience in communicating with native English speakers in real life. I would argue that first, a learner must master at least basic English grammar from books with exercises before being able to communicate grammatically correctly in real life with native speakers of English.