How can I study grammar better alongside LingQ?

My main problem is based around the idea that one grammatical point is invariably related or linked to something else; often required to understand the original point. For example: Verbs can relate to the auxiliaries; auxiliaries can relate to tense; tense can relate to participles and so on. By the time I have some understanding of one idea another one comes into play and can be hard to grasp new ideas as they form new relationships with other ones. (I hope this is a good thing, but feels overwhelming :/)

Through listening and reading I cross reference the best I can with a French grammar book called “English grammar for students of French”. It is effectively a “transitional” material; introducing English grammar points first then following up with French ones, each in their respective topics. A great reference, but can be difficult to identify “what” to read. It all seems to be dependent on what I have encountered whilst reading then doing my best to identify the grammatical point at hand and try to make sense of it. It’s almost as though I can’t understand anything unless it is grounded by a grammatical point. The guide here on LingQ doesn’t feel adequate for what I need as for the reasons mentioned; so much is interrelated.

The grammatical understanding also seems to be the basis of which I define words in LingQ; using popular translations; as this gives more insight to to a particular word (meanings, usages, grammatical classifications and so on.) whilst cross referencing to a dictionary when needed.

I’ve realized that the quality of learning grammar in a foreign language is very much applied from that of your native one; mostly it seems; with terminology and classifications. I hope part of the problem is myself just not understanding the principles of English grammar.

Are there simpler ways of approaching grammar? - how can one cross reference better? - Am I looking at this wrong way?

Thanks for reading. Any ideas?

I think you need a systematic introduction to French grammar, rather than trying to understand structures as you go: get an introductory book to French for beginners. Not just a grammar! But one that introduces you to the main grammar points systematically as it teaches you the basics of the language. Don’t try to memorize, just get acquainted with what you’ll eventually have to learn, get a mental map of what’s ahead.
Just browse through the book as you keep reading on Lingq and refer back to it now and then. Notice that you don’t need the audio or doing the exercises.
Steve on this: Language Learning - Starting From Scratch - YouTube

Excellent advice. . It’s what I plan to do.

On that note: Licenciado, when you have a free minute, I put a post on your profile wall seeking some wisdom as I look ahead. Any insight would be appreciated.

I agree with this point. personally i use teach yourself for is understandable grammar explanations and its helping me understand the language a lot.

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This is good to know. I got a copy f a French one, maybe 20 years old. 15 maybe. Good to know it’s recommended. I’ve heard about Asimil But haven’t seen. Thoughts on those?

I’m a big fan of Assimil. However, it is a different beast altogether. It is a conversation-based whole course which will give you a solid basis. It consists of very good, short dialogues, meant to be read/listened on a dayly basis, complete with notes. Every 7 days, there is a review lesson that explains you the grammar that has already been used during the previous week.
It is not such a short book and it is not just an introduction. It typically contains 100 lessons. You can read it complete in a bit over 3 months (if you don’t complete the so-called “second wave”, which I often don’t). I typically go through Assimil when I begin a new language. I typically only buy the book, not the audio and rely on LIngq and YT for listening practice but many people do like the audio. There are some threads on the Forum about how to import Assimil audio to LIngq.
Btw, in your case I would consider getting Assimil for French in Spanish :slight_smile: It is a technique some people call “laddering”, which I do very often. It makes sure that you learn a new language at the same time that you practice another one.
Our friend from bilingüe blogs plans to learn a couple languages through laddering:

French course in Spanish from the Assimil page:

I’m a fan of Assimil as well. The dialogues are useful and entertaining and grammar is introduced in tidbits as you go along. So you’re just getting bits of information along the way. Then the 7th lesson (at least on German and Spanish, but likely French too) are a review chapter. The grammar introduced in the previous 6 lessons is expanded on a little more. Nothing too much and “in time” with what you are learning. At the end of the book is a summary again of most of the grammar and/or may some grammar points that weren’t touched on or needed further expansion.

I do use the audio for both German and Spanish. They start off really slow and repeat the lessons the first 7 or so. After that the lessons are not repeated and they progressively are read faster and faster. The speakers are native and there is no English explanations. It’s really want you want in the audio. Nice short lessons that take 1-3 min (maybe a little bit longer at the end).

If you get the later versions with “mp3” the lesson transcripts are in the “lyrics” of the mp3, ready to be extracted by a program like mp3tag that you can import into assimil along with the audio. It takes a little bit of work to do, but I have a post or two on LingQ how to do it if you choose to get into assimil.

You could try “Busuu” next to LingQ: They offer structured grammar courses in different languages at a very reasonable price.

I use Busuu daily for Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese. And all of these courses are well done. You can even try out many of their learning paths for free, at least for one language (but not for several languages).
Combined with (mass) immersion practice based, for example, on LingQ, Busuu is a good grammar supplement with an excellent price-performance ratio.
It should be enough if you do 1-2 Busuu lesson(s) between 10 20 min a day to get a better grasp of French grammar!

If you have just started with French neither LingQ nor Busuu (nor other grammar oriented courses) are the way to go. From my learning / teaching exp., it’s best to focus on speaking and pronunciation first . And that is where “Pimsleur” shines, at least their smartphone-based subscription model.

If you switch then to AudioReaders (LingQ, Assimil, etc.) and / or grammar courses (à la Busuu and Co), you’ll have more fun because you have already developed a good “feel” for French.

A 2nd BTW:
I’m a big fan of “mini dialogs” for learning new languages. Although I love “Assimil”,
there are also excellent free resources in French:

  1. Dialogues FLE - intermédiaire - pour apprendre le français
  2. The translation-based audio files provided by “50languages”:
    Learn languages online or with Android and iPhone app for free.

Perhaps those resources are helpful for you too!

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I personally quite agree with Steve on Pimsleur and the like:

Well, I’ve been intensively studying SLA and all kinds of digital solutions for 14 months now, because I`m writing a book about it.
Neither in the scientific literature nor in learning/teaching practice is there a consensus about the “best” way(s) to learn / to start learning a language. Perhaps we can point out the learning practices, i.e. strategies and habits, that should be avoided (= the “worst practices”) - but that’s all.
According to my learning/teaching experience, a smart way of learning in general and language learning in particular is to be “highly flexible”, to reflect on our learning process and to adapt constantly. This includes the combination of different (SLA) approaches and tools, because there is no “one size fits all” approach or tool.

In Portuguese and Japanese, for example, where I am still at a beginner level, I’ve mixed different approaches - right from the start:

  • Lessons that focus explicitly on “pronunciation” (à la “Ta Falado” in Portuguese)
  • Simple translation and speaking exercises à la “50 languages” or Michel Thomas
  • AudioReaders à la Assimil and LingQ with texts and “many” mini-dialogues
  • 1-2 daily grammar lessons in “Busuu”.
    But this is the mix that works best for me - at least on a beginner level. Other learners have to develop their own “personal” mix of approaches and tools :slight_smile:

Regarding “Pimsleur”: I wasn’t a fan of them “before” their subscription model, because I thought what they had to offer was hopelessly overpriced. But their app-based subscription model is quite an improvement :slight_smile:


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When I see a certain grammar structure repeatedly across many readings I consider researching it but only when my grasp of that grammar is low despite the frequent encounters. I haven’t had this issue yet to be honest. I’ll randomly look stuff up for fun though sometimes, just to mix it up a little.

I’ll keep an eye out for these two, looks pretty good. cheers

This seems to be a good mix. I’m not a fan of Busuu as the learning progression feels a bit too fixed for my liking but it may be something I will return to in the future when have grasped the language a bit better. However, I reckon Pimsleur might be something suitable as a sort of “short term” supplement for comprehension in addition to LingQ.

I’ve struggled to understand the idea of practicing speaking and pronunciation before listening and reading; as Virutallynative put it “it’s input, before output.” but I suppose that’s just my interpretation. They are definitely skills I need to incorporate, it’s just a matter of how for my learning preferences.

Can Assimil content be imported into LingQ? or are they just a separate media platform?

ericb100 below talks about how you can import it, but in principle it’s a separate platform, namely, a book with audio.
Anyway, for the particular problem, it seems to me that going through “Teach Yourself” may be the simplest solution

*** Busuu ***
“[…] because the learning process feels a bit too fixed”
It depends on how you use it. I tend to jump back and forth between the grammar lessons I’m interested in. Other lessons I completely ignore. Maybe I’ll be interested in them later - or never.
I also find their “writing exercises” quite good because there’s a very helpful community, especially in Spanish!

So you can use Busuu very “flexibly” as a “supplement” to immersion and/or interaction exercises. But it shouldn’t be your only resource when learning a new language.
And since Krashen, it’s also no longer a good idea to follow a traditional “grammar first or accuracy first” approach to SLA!

*** Pimsleur ***
“a sort of “short term” supplement for comprehension in addition to LingQ”
That’s exactly what I meant :slight_smile:

*** Pronunciation ***
This is a question of “focus” - right from the start.
From my learning/teaching experience, esp. in French, learners should focus on L2 pronunciation (issues).
Many French learners I met/taught didn’t (want to) do this. They first started “butchering” French and then (when the fossilization set in) they couldn’t stop butchering it :slight_smile:
IMO, there are two main reasons for this attitude:

  1. The position that pronunciation doesn’t matter as long as the native speakers understand you:
    Well, pronunciation is quite important, esp. in professional contexts!
    If the pronunciation of your target language is a disaster, this can lead not only to communication breakdowns due to too many misunderstandings, etc. but also to negative judgements by the native speakers (the attribution of lack of respect or diligence, the attribution of incompetence, etc.).
    The same applies to “spelling” in writing: If too many mistakes are made in writing e-mails, etc., this is seen as a lack of intellectual training, competence etc. in a professional environment.
  2. The view that correct pronunciation develops naturally with immersion and/or interaction “alone”
    This applies to younger children because of the greater phonetic plasticity of their brains. But it’s less true for adult learners (their brains are phonetically less flexible, they may have identity and resistance issues, etc.). Therefore, adult learners of a target language should focus more on L2 pronunciation (issues).
    In my opinion, it’s a conscious decision that pronunciation is important in language learning and should be explicitly trained early on! But it’s often a bad idea to postpone it - indefinitely!
    Or more generally speaking: First you define your (bad) habits. Then your (bad) habits define you! :slight_smile:

*** Input before output or listening / reading before speaking / pronunciation? ***
This is a really difficult question because it goes beyond (second) language acquisition research and is related to (social) complexity research, communication and media studies, neuroscience, etc.
It would be easy to write hundreds of pages about it without being able to present a “definitive” or “final” answer. But I’d like to briefly present just two points here:

  1. The “input-output (IO) relationship” refers to the transmission model of communication and its variants.
    Today it’s quite easy to deconstruct these models in relation to human communication. Jacques Derrida and Niklas Luhmann, for example, did this already about 40-50 years ago.
    Instead of transmission it’s then more (scientifically) fruitful to conceptualize human communication as a complex, dynamic and socio-emergent process based on different types of media (forms) without having to resort to IO.
    This means that there’s “no” direct transfer of content (information) from brain / mind A to brain / mind B. In short, there’s no such thing as comprehensible “input” into another brain / mind.
    It also means that media forms in communication are used to “perturb” another mind so that it can create its own structures of meaning.
    In other words, a “disturbance” concept has today supplanted the traditional transmission concept (including the IO relationship).
    But communication, cognition and media (forms) are still necessary. Otherwise nothing happens: no speaking, no listening, no writing, no reading - nada!

  2. The necessity of a “silent period” in which we only take in (listen to/read) media forms?
    I’m not so sure if the “silent period” applies to small children, because they “interact” quite actively with their caregivers, but in a non-verbal / para-verbal way.
    From my social complexity science perspective, the basic problem here is that SLA practice and research is too much focused on “language”.
    If one switches to a more comprehensive perspective of “socio-emergent communication”, many different media forms, social contexts, cultural aspects, etc. become important. And this also includes interaction: So you can always interact in communication processes without talking much or at all!
    That is: As adult L2 learners we can not only interact non-verbally and para-verbally, but also verbally (by means of deliberate practice exercises) early on in communication processes…
    In other words, it’s not about immersion versus interaction (or according to the traditional transmission model of communication input vs output). Whether you prefer a (more passive) immersion-first approach through a lot of listening/reading à la Steve Kaufmann or an interaction-first approach (speaking from day 1 onwards à la Benny Lewis or Jeff Brown) or a mixed approach of immersion and interaction (like I do), could be a matter of personal taste. But ultimately, you need “both” - at least if you want to be successful in your target language.