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This is a very interesting concept because in fact many people have ‘picked up’ languages as they went along learning so-called ‘street-English’. At the same time these same people have managed to successfully gone through life and closed big business deals, communicated to all kinds of native speakers around the world, and have thoroughly got themselves caught up in the language. The question is, were grammar lessons really necessary?
My answer here is two-fold.
Firstly I think the person has to make a decision early on if they are learning English for just conversation and communication orally or are they going to need to learn how to read and write at the same time?
The whole notion of being able to converse in a language is very different to being able to read and write it as well. To be able to read and write it does require considerably more skill in the language to make sure that you are communicating exactly what you want to say, whereas to simply talk you way through something can be done with a lot of other gestures of physical cues.
The second part of the answer is that the person who is picking up ‘street-English’ is in itself picking up turns of phrases and grammatical constructions without them knowing it. It does also depend of course on which ‘streets’ he is learning this language. If he is in downtown London and conversing with the BBC British types, for sure he will pick a more ‘perfect’ grammatical formation, whereas if he is conversing with people who perhaps have English also as their second language, there will be a lot of grammatical errors learned that will be difficult to get rid of.
At the end it all comes down to what the person wants for themselves. Of course to do a full course in all the disciplines is really the best option, but sometimes there isn’t the opportunity or the time to go through such a thing and in the end it is the individual who makes the choice.
So what do you think? Can someone learn English without the grammar lessons?