“5 Ways” Learning Tips


Grammar improvement is a BIG challenge for all language learners.

The problem is this:

We tend to use the same grammar patterns over and over again.

AND we tend to make the same grammar mistakes over and over again.

To get to the next level  we need to EXPAND and identify, understand, and CORRECT our errors.

It’s easier said than done!

Step One is:  Make the decision now to improve your grammar!

Do you want to make progress in English?

But do you feel stuck?  Do you feel like you can’t make any improvement?

Most learners reach a “plateau” of English grammar and never go higher. They never progress to an advanced stage.

If you want to have advanced grammar, try these “hacks”.  “Hacks” are secrets or “short cuts” that you can use to boost your level!

1. Make Grammar Targets

This is a way to “filter” your grammar.

Keep a notebook!  Write “problem grammar” sentences in it — sentences you hear that have new grammar in them.  You can write down challenging sentences you hear or read.

Or make note of any errors you hear when people use English.  Or make a list of errors you know you sometimes make when you speak or write English.  You may need to ask a native English speaker to help you:  What errors do you hear when I speak English?  Make a list, with two columns:  Mistake – Correction.  Study your list at least once a week. Of course, don’t repeat the error.  Repeat the correct way to say it.

2. Practice “Patterning”

This is a way to “prime” your grammar knowledge.

This is a kind of game.  Find a sentence that has challenging grammar for you. Take the first part of an English sentence. Finish it in 5 different ways.


I have never…

I really would like to…

I remember that …

In my opinion, people should…

By using “patterning” (or “templating”), you reinforce your understanding of English grammar.

3. Use Contrasting

This is a way to train your mind to contrast your native language with English, in order to separate your grammar knowledge of your L1 and your L2 – so that you don’t use translation when you speak..

Write 5 sentences in your native language that you would like to say in correct English. Use a translation app, such as Google Translate.  (It gets better all the time!)

Practice using these new sentences in English – in your speech and writing.  (Note:  Google Translate has a pronunciation icon – so you can hear a native speaker say each word or sentence.)  Try to avoid using your native language grammar when you say these ideas – it’s hard to do, but it’s a big help in improving your proficiency.

4. Use Gap reading

This is a way to train your mind to predict grammar patterns.

Do a “gap reading.”  This is a very cool way to practice grammar! Choose a grammar category, such as past tense verbs,  adjectives, adverbs, singular nouns.  Find a reading online. Copy the text you want to “target” – one page at most.   Underline all of the instances of that category.  Then delete (“gap”) those parts and try to fill in the missing parts.

Or you can just blank out every fifth word.  Word word word word _______ word word word word _________.

See if you can fill in the blanks with sensible words – they don’t have to be the exact words.

5. Paraphrasing

This is a way to train your mind to become more flexible when you use English grammar.

Try to find alternate ways to say the same ideas.  For example, here are some paraphrasing examples from Lingual.net’s Super Learner Fluency course.

1. I love making friends. 

We can also say:

2. I haven’t seen her in a while, but we’re still very close. 

We can also say:

  • Although I haven’t seen her in a while, we’re still very close. (Click here for more)
  • She and I are still very close even though we haven’t seen each other in a while. (Click here for more)

3. My relationship with Maya is one of the strongest friendships I have.  

We can also say:

  • I have a strong friendship with Maya.  In fact, it’s one of the strongest friendships I have. (Click here for more)
  • Out of all of my relationships, my friendship with Maya is one of the strongest. (Click here for more)

4. I don’t have a lot of friends because I’m shy.

We can also say:

5. We’ve known each other since high school.   

We can also say:


OK, so those are the 5 “hacks.” (By the way, “hack” means a secret, or a trick, or a short cut!)

Do you see how they work? Try each one —  try each one at least once.

Does it help you?  If so, keep using it!!

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