Have you ever wondered why it can be so difficult to use the right tense form in practice? Grammar can be very tricky that way. Of course, I'm not talking of your native language grammar. Even if you failed all your tests in the native language you can still use it rather well. If English is not your first language, you're going to have difficulty putting your head knowledge into action. Here are some common stages before you read proficiency (adopted from Abraham Maslow's four stages of competence):
- Using all kinds of verb forms in any situation and being happy about it: If you haven't read any Grammar book or taken formal English classes with a tutor you are probably on this stage. You know how to say certain things and people sort of understand you, so why bother, right?
- Using all kinds of verb forms in any situation and being unhappy about it: Along comes a teacher who tells you that you're making all these mistakes. You can't control your speaking yet as it is hard to get used to a new system, so you keep making mistakes, but unlike in the past you are aware of them, but can't change them, yet.
- Beginning to use the right verb forms (even correcting yourself sometimes), but doing it very slowly: Your second stage can either make you depressed or encourage you to move on. If you are depressed you're the only one who will suffer from it. So, get over yourself and move on :) After some practical guidance from a teacher you will begin using your forms right, however, you will still think a lot before using either form.
- Using the right verb forms in right situations, correcting yourself, when needed, doing it fast and being happy about it: Now you can speak well, use the right forms, not think about what to use and when as it all comes to you automatically.
Can I achieve level 4 and skip 2 and 3?
You can only achieve level 4 if you're on level 3. So, the journey is inevitable.
How long does it take to get from 1 to 4?
It all depends on you, but it does not happen in a day or two. If you work with a private tutor and practice all the time then you will probably need at least 6 months. Your homework is essential for your progress. I have never seen a teacher transplant her brains into the student.
What if I can't take private lessons?
There're lots of options online, however they are sporadic and not always thought-through (maybe they are, but if you're on level 1 you can't tell). OnlinEnglish has an online Grammar course that will help you achieve your results faster and work on your Grammar more effectively. You can learn more about it here.
Why do I need a teacher?
When you are on level 1-3, you don't know your mistakes and can't hear them. In order to learn and correct them yourself you need to spend some of your time learning with an instructor. That will help you progress quickly and develop the skills you need to speak fluently.