This guy says don’t study grammar and I obviously disagree. 🙂
So you’re supposed to hear things until you can naturally tell what sounds right and what’s wrong and not study grammar at all. This is bad advice unless you live in Japan or speak/hear Japanese everyday with someone willing to correct everything you say. As with most things in real life, the correct solution is to use a balanced and practical approach.
The problem with anecdotes is that someone can always come up different ones to make an argument. Ok, you’ve met people who have studied grammar and still can’t speak the language, well, I have met people who haven’t studied grammar and still can’t speak the language. It proves nothing. For instance, my dad has lived in the United States for as long as I have and his English is still broken and a grammatical mess. He has listened to English naturally for over 30 years, day in and day out, and he can do anything he wants in English whether it’s conversation, filing taxes, or starting a small business. But he hasn’t studied a lick of grammar and his English still sucks.
Heck, I’ve lived in the US since elementary school and they still taught me grammar in school. I learned things like subject-verb agreement, double negatives, and how to avoid run-ons and sentence fragments. you needs to learn these stuffs; so we don’t sounds like no dummy.
The fact of the matter is, grammar is one tool of many in your arsenal that you would be foolish to ignore completely. You shouldn’t be thinking about grammar when you’re talking but it is a stepping stone or guideline you can use to reach the point where you don’t need it. If you only learn with phrases, you need to be exposed to every type of grammar, verb conjugation, and vocabulary usage to internalize it naturally. This is fine for learning your native language as a child but it will take far too long for adults seeking second+ language proficiency, especially in a non-immersive environment. Grammar can help you systematically organize the language such that you can learn entirely new words, phrases, and sentences and quickly incorporate them using the same rules that apply for all words without having to encounter them over and over again. The rules themselves are simply a means to an end, not the end result.
Grammar can also help you break down sentences you don’t understand and provide guidelines on how to structure your own sentences. I’ve often met people who know all the vocabulary they need to say something but still can’t figure out how to organize them into a sentence to express what they want to say.
Of course, you need to do lots of listening and speaking practice but I don’t see why that precludes you from learning grammar and applying it as needed. Eventually, with enough practice, you won’t need to think about the grammar anymore but until then, it can help you figure out how to say what you want. Sure, it may be slow, but it’s better than not being able to say anything at all. Japanese classes often spend TOO much time on grammar with very little actual conversation practice. That’s obviously a problem but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn ANY grammar.