Mohammed, who is one of Michael’s Online TOEFL Course students, didn’t like grammar when he first came to the United States. In fact, he had difficulty putting together syntactically-correct sentences in his speaking and his writing. Often, he would omit his “be” verbs and would make sentences like “My mother important in my life.” or he would confuse adjectives and adverbs by uttering statements like “That is an well paper.” One year later, after scoring more than 57/68 on the grammar section of the paper-based TOEFL exam, Mohammed has solved his grammar problems and has turned a weakness into a strength by doing three simple things.
First of all, he extensively studied Understanding and Using English Grammar by Better Azar. He went through the entire book and studied all the exercises improving his mastery of verb tenses, modals, articles, noun clauses, adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and other types of connectives. But he took his studies a step further. When Mohammed saw something in his book he did not understand, he would go on the Internet to research the topic more. For example, after studying the present perfect tense in his grammar book, Mohammed still not understand how to use the verb tense, so he used Google to find web sites that explained about the present perfect tense in more depth. He read many sample sentences and more explanations, all of which helped to clarify his understanding of this grammar point.
Second of all, he enrolled in Grammarly, an automated proofreader and personal grammar coach which helped him correct up to 10 times more mistakes than popular word processors. For several months, each time he wrote an essay for one of his ESL classes, he would paste the document into Grammarly, which would then pinpoint problems he was having as they relate to subject-verb agreement, pronoun reference, sentence formation, punctuation, and all the other common errors that ESL and native-speaker writers make. After submitting more than 34 essays to the Online Grammarly Web Site, Mohammed became more aware of his writing errors and how to correct them. Moreover, he began to discover than the more control he developed over the writing, the more grammatically correct he was able to speak. Therefore, by using his textbook and the Online editing service, Mohammed was making steady progress.
Third of all, Mohammed was motivated to improve his grammar proficiency, thereby fueling his desire to excel. He knew, if he improved his grammar proficiency, that he would be better able to handle his future speaking and writing assignments in his graduate program in computer science. Therefore, Mohammed genuinely wanted to get better and recognized that, by getting better, he would be able to improve his academic performance.
Finally, now Mohammed likes grammar and is not afraid to admit it. Good for him!