top of page
  • Rico Wong

Grammar first OR context first?


Update on changing studying style

I've changed up my studying style a bit and I definitely feel more relaxed and more organised. One big lesson for myself is that reviewing is (EVEN!) more important for me to stay on top of everything. Having a stronger foundation makes the lesson more comfortable, easier to follow and less stressful. It's worth investing the time in doing so.

So one of the small changes I've made is to listen to Japanese music while I go walking. I've been looking for time in my schedule to fit in more cardio but I reasoned to myself that I don't have time. Unfortunately, I think that built more on the stress/pressure - the feeling of having to do something productive took over the actual productivity.

So now, long walks have the benefit of providing studying time, relaxing myself and doing cardio. If I think like this, I am not only more motivated, but think it's useful too.

Watching Japanese anime/shows while exercising at home seems to be ok so far. But I may need to change it to Japanese Youtube fitness influencers. The context will probably make more sense as I'm working out.

Teaching styles - Grammar First vs Context First

Japanese has a lot of grammar. The teaching style provided to me right now is to introduce the grammar first and provide different contexts afterwards.

The main benefit so far is that it's quite easy to understand how to grammatically form a sentence. But it feels a little like this so far..


The class provides a fair amount of spoken practice time but more speaking between students would be better. I'd like to experiment with the language a little more or use previously learnt grammar and add it in.

In this case, I think we are lacking free practice.

Teacher: For ESL language teaching, the preferred modern method is to introduce context first (e.g. shopping) and introduce a variety of grammar centered around that topic (e.g. past tense - "I bought new shoes!" / countable and uncountable nouns / requests etc..).

The main reason we provide context first is that it's easier to use the grammar and remember it because there is a clear situation in your mind. The grammar will always reappear in a different context later on in the class. Students can then feel like they can handle different situations and actually USE their English.

The downside - not every topic is interesting. It can become worse if the topic lasts for a significant period of time too... :/

I do find that the grammar first model makes learning new topics quite segmented. Personally, I don't think that's ideal as I tend to forget or neglect to use previously taught lessons. In that case, I think this reinforces my feelings in wanting more free practice to make the grammar and language feel more connected.

What should I do to increase free practice?

Ideally, find a partner to speak with. (Apps / online is also an option)

However, for the more introverted person - (like myself) - and under this current situation with the pandemic, I'm going to sing...And put a bigger focus on the essay-style pieces of homework.

If I'm not going to be able to speak to people much, I NEED mouth-muscle practice. Singing seems better than talking to myself.

Even though songs don't provide good grammar references, they often play with the language a lot which is what I want right now.

I'll consider using apps/online in the future but at the moment, I'm a real beginner so the other person will just suffer if they had to talk with me.


bottom of page