Problem With Stilted Sounding Sentences and Grammar In A Foreign Language

I recently received the question of what to do if you are studying a foreign language and continue to make weird sentences or sentences that have stilted grammar.

The most common underlying cause for making strange sentences in a foreign language is that you are trying to construct the language based on either the grammar of your own language or by using memorized grammar rules from a textbook. In both of these cases, you are not feeling the language as it really is but are merely trying to convert your own language to the foreign language through a set of rules.

If you want natural sounding language, then you need to have a great amount of exposure to the new language. By repeated exposure, you will begin to pick up sentence structure and phrases that get used often. Through this manner, you, too, will become able to make natural sounding language in the foreign language. If you simply use grammar rules or try to translate from your language to the new one, you are sure to make mistakes or at the very least, create a sentence which may make sense to you in your own language or by your own rules but seem very strange or stilted to a native speaker in the foreign language.

There is a great way to get repeated exposure to natural language but it is out of the scope of this article. I do go into detail about it in my book so if you are interested, you may want to take a look at that. You can find the link below.

However, in the end, remember that you should be trying to learn the language patterns and structure by looking at real, natural language. You shouldn’t be trying to learn a foreign language by translating out of your native language or by simply using grammar rules to convert.

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