What Is Grammar-less Language Learning?

by | Language Training

I often get questions from clients about the advantages of grammar-less language learning. The simple answer is this: time. Many busy professionals don’t have time or patience to learn all of the nuances of another language. The traditional approach to language learning can take years. I have taught Spanish & ESL at a number of colleges and I know what doesn’t work: bogging students down with so much grammar that they are reluctant to speak. And an individual can easily become discouraged when she / he realizes that you probably won’t learn anything that will help close the communication gap at her / his place of work.

Don’t get me wrong, learning some basic greetings and small talk is always valuable. But is it worth sitting through a 16-week grammar-heavy class to find only a couple phrases useful? And who has time to invest in a local community education class or even at a college? Will you learn the specific phrases you need to “get your point across” with your employees whose first language isn’t English. The simple answer is no.

When it comes to workplace communication, many companies want their employees to learn industry-specific words and phrases without spending time learning material they may never use. That’s why we developed our programs addressing the needs of specific industries by teaching managers the language and cultures of their workers. The formula is the more effective you communicate with your employees the more effective they’ll become in their jobs.

Whether it’s taking online language lessons or using bilingual “survival” training products to facilitate learning, I found that teaching managers basic phrases in Spanish or other languages that were specific to their needs not only helps get jobs done but resulted in workers who felt more respected and motivated. Bottom line: companies retain better employees. This can be achieved in a fraction of the time of traditional language learning programs.

There are limitations to grammar-less language learning: employees / students don’t have the time to “train their ear” so she / he won’t be having full-blown conversations. But is that really necessary? The companies we work with want to: 1) make sure their workers feel appreciated, 2) exchange some basic “small talk” to show the individual that they are making an effort and 3) communicate specific phrases and requests to make the work environment more productive and efficient. And you can do this by giving the learn only the phrases that they want; that will make them successful at work. And by using this “grammar-less” approach you have learners that see immediate results and are more motivated to continue the learning process.

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