Q: 是否一定要學文法呢?

Is it absolutely necessary for me to learn grammar?

A: 我的老天鵝,又是這個問題。好吧,為了回答這個模稜兩可的 (ambiguous) 問題,我也提供一個模棱兩可的回應:這視情況而定 (it depends)

Gosh, not this question again. Well, to answer this ambiguous question, let me give you an equally ambiguous response: it depends.


Simply saying “yes” or “no” would be a sweeping generalization and wouldn’t deepen our understanding of the issue. So, are you ready for a story?


I immigrated to the US from Taiwan in the third grade, and I had no knowledge of English. I found myself in an environment where nobody spoke Mandarin except my mother, and I had to learn English to communicate with everyone around me. You can imagine the level of motivation I had to learn English.


This was during the late 80s and early 90s, so my elementary school had a very basic ESL program where immigrant kids would spend hours playing board games and listening to a few stories, but not much else. To help me acclimate, the school paired me with a Vietnamese student my first day, thinking we spoke the same language. Surprise for you: we did not speak the same language.

幸運的是,需求(necessity)成了我的最佳老師。除了睡覺以外的時間,我總試著理解周遭的人究竟在說些什麼。這麼多年過去了,我的記憶雖然有些模糊,但我確實記得自己曾經歷過所謂的「沉默期」(silent period)。

Fortunately, necessity became my greatest teacher, and I spent every waking moment trying to understand what was being said around me. Though my memory is a bit fuzzy after all these decades, I do remember going through a so-called silent period.

根據語言研究者史蒂芬.克拉申(Stephen Krashen)的觀察,許多剛學英語的人都會經歷一個所謂的「沉默期」。在這個階段裡,即便對語言有很好的理解,他們在口語表達上會有些猶豫或力所不及(Krashen1982)。他們在表達想法時或許遇到了困難,從而讓他們在使用新語言時感到不自在。在課堂的情境中,沉默期的持續時間不一,從幾天到一年不等,端看學生此前的語言經驗、個人性格以及學習新語言時的情緒而定(Krashen1982)。

According to language researcher Stephen Krashen, many new English learners experience a phase known as the “silent period.” During this period, despite having a good understanding of the language, they are hesitant or unable to communicate orally (Krashen, 1982). They may struggle to express their thoughts verbally, leading to discomfort when speaking in the new language. The duration of the silent period can vary significantly among students in classroom settings, ranging from a few days to a year. This variation is influenced by factors such as prior language experience, individual personality, and emotions related to learning a new language (Krashen, 1982).

與克拉申的觀察相似,經過幾個月的語言沉浸,我確實能夠理解大部分的對話,但卻難以表達自我。有一天,我決定開口說話。我最先說出的詞語是「thank you」跟「please」,因為這是小學最常練習的兩個詞語。當我開始說出這幾個詞語時,我仍然記得某位同學——他應該叫安東尼(Anthony——的驚訝神情,他急忙告訴老師我會講英語。當時的孩子仍非常天真,而我也是整個學校裡為數不多的亞裔之一。

Similar to Krashen’s observations, I could indeed understand most of what was being said around me after being immersed in the language for a few months, but I had difficulty expressing myself. One day, I made the decision to start speaking. The first words I uttered were “thank you” and “please,” as they were the most drilled words in elementary. I still recall the astonishment on one of my classmates’ faces; I believe his name was Anthony, when I started saying these few words, and he rushed to tell the teacher that I could speak English. Kids were quite innocent back then, and I was one of the very few Asians in the entire school.


Being able to recall this from memory more than 30 years later shows how proud and happy I felt at that moment. Gradually, I began speaking more and more, and within a year, I could speak quite fluently. Listening, speaking, and reading skills developed quickly at the same time, primarily because I am an avid reader.

凡是能取得的讀物——無論是漫畫 (comics)、短篇小說(short stories)或長篇小說(novels——我都愛不釋手。在孩童的早期發展中,各種形式的閱讀都是極其重要的習慣。我個人認為,我從閱讀中文文本所獲得的解碼能力(decoding skills)與閱讀習慣,對我得以順利地轉而閱讀英語文本有很大的幫助。諸多研究表明,當學習者熟稔第二語言後,母語的閱讀能力有助於第二語言的閱讀及其他能力(細節請參考 Cummins2017)。

I have always enjoyed reading everything I could get my hands on—comic books, short stories, novels, you name it, and I would be glad to read it. Reading in any form is an essential habit for children to develop at an early age. I personally believe that many of the decoding skills and reading habits I gained from reading in Chinese transferred over, making English reading quite easy for me. There’s a lot of research on how reading skills in L1 can benefit L2 reading (and other skills) once a learner establishes some proficiency in L2 (See Cummins, 2017 for details).


There’s no way to prove that my personal, anecdotal example can be applied to others. My L2 reading proficiency could, for example, be due to the fact that I struggled in a completely foreign environment and had to turn to books to escape racially-motivated bullying. Nevertheless, I read tirelessly, in Chinese and English, first exhausting my local library’s collection of Chinese martial arts fiction. I read every single one of Jin Yong’s novels, which probably influenced my naive conception of morality in my youth. Thanks a lot for the brainwashing, Sir Jin Yong.


In fact, I learned much of my Chinese this way. I could not pronounce many of the words I was reading in Mandarin because I never learned them. Yet, I understood their meaning from seeing and noticing these characters repeatedly. It was only years later when I returned to Taiwan that I learned how to pronounce these words, much to the amusement of my friends.

除了中文書籍,我也是英文書痴。我遍覽所有課內讀物:《野性的呼唤》(The Call of the Wild)、《殺死一隻知更鳥》(To Kill a Mockingbird)、《動物莊園》(Animal Farm)⋯⋯等書。此外,閱讀對我來說變成一種樂趣,因為閱讀變得非常容易。

Beyond Chinese books, I am also an avid reader of all the assigned classroom reading and beyond. I read books like “The Call of the Wild,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Animal Farm,” etc. In addition, reading became a pleasure because it became so easy for me to read.

由於學區扶貧專案的關係,高中開始我便在圖書館打工。身為圖書館的職員,我注意到有煽情封面浪漫小說最受歡迎,經常被老太太借閱。不過,我對這些書並不感興趣 >< 空閒時,我讀遍了圖書館的每一本冒險、奇幻以及科幻小說——《三劍客》(The Three Musketeers)、《魔戒》(The Lord of the Rings)、《美麗新世界》(Brave New World)、《沙丘》(Dune) ……等各式書籍。這些讀物對我的影響很大,不僅是在語言發展方面,同時也形塑了我的世界觀。

I worked in a library starting from high school in a special program for disadvantaged families. As a library clerk, I noticed that the most popular novels were romances, often checked out by seniors. Those books did not catch my attention, though. In my spare time, I read every adventure, fantasy, and science fiction novel the library had available: “The Three Musketeers,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Brave New World,” “Dune,” to name a few. These books have had a huge impact on me, not just in terms of language development, but essentially helped me to form my worldview.


I read every break I had and must have read at least one book a week, ironically, until I went to college. Books were my only escape from a somewhat tough childhood, but let’s get into that another time. So far, it does not seem like I explicitly learned grammar, right?

這麼說吧,在課堂上,我們的英語老師教我們新的詞彙,它們的詞類 (part of speech),以及如何在句子中使用它們,進而開始寫作。我們在實踐中學習文法,同時也有教授如何避免連寫句(run-on sentence)或斷句 (sentence fragment)。然而,我們並沒有學習在台灣「第二語言習得」(SLA)所強調的一些文法基本規則。例如,我們並未細究關係子句,抑或主謂一致等基本規則。

Well, in the classroom, our English teacher taught us new vocabulary words, their parts of speech, how to use them in complete sentences. We learned grammar in practice and had lessons on how to avoid run-on sentences or fragments. However, we did not learn the basic rules often stressed in SLA in Taiwan. We did not, for example, learn about relative clauses or even subject-verb agreement in depth.


Nevertheless, I soaked up everything in these lessons, and along with reading and looking up words (and writing them down) daily, I was able to catch up to my native-speaking peers by the sixth grade and most likely surpassed most of them by junior high.


In short, I acquired English naturally and excelled in everything related to it, which is basically everything, even math. Even in my freshman year of university, I found history-related courses fairly easy due to my language proficiency. I read quickly, understood key information implicitly, and could write an essay in minutes. However, during my college years, I noticed a lot of red marks on my writing assignments.


Since grammar was rarely corrected before college—teachers simply do not have time—I never bothered paying much attention to it. I essentially wrote how I thought and spoke. Needless to say, I was making quite a few small systematic errors in my speech and writing without ever noticing them. Native speakers would never correct me because my English sounds natural, and even when I was corrected by my teacher, grammar never significantly affected my grades.


I thus never specifically studied grammar as it served no purpose. Such an approach obviously does not apply to students in Taiwan, who have to learn grammar for tests and other practical purposes. They also do not have the luxury of being immersed in an all-English environment for decades. Thus, it came as a complete surprise when my grammar did affect my work performance.


It wasn’t until college, when I started working as a junior museum curator, that I became fully cognizant of my grammar errors and set out to learn why I was making them. In fact, I didn’t notice these errors on my own. One day, my supervisor called me over and pointed out that despite my attention to detail, I had basic grammar errors in nearly every one of my descriptions of museum artifacts.

當下,就在有人向我指出這些錯誤的那一刻,我才意識到自己在主謂一致、動詞變化(verb conjugation)以及動詞時態等方面所犯的小錯誤。我的小學、國中與高中老師從來沒有指出這些錯誤,因為在他們看來這些問題可能微不足道。但從專業的層面來說,這樣的錯誤可能會造成困擾。若我的主管沒有發現這些長期累積錯誤,往後的事情恐怕不堪設想。

Only then, after someone pointed out these mistakes to me, did I realize I was making errors in subject-verb agreement, verb conjugation, and verb tense. None of my previous teachers in elementary, junior high, and high school had pointed out these errors because they considered them trivial. However, at a professional level, such errors could lead to problems. Imagine if my supervisor had not caught those errors.

另外,在當時沒有 Grammarly ChatGPT 這樣的工具。我只好獨自學習所有的文法規則。多年後在臺灣,我是教科書的主編,老師們會以各種文法的疑難雜症來拷問(grill)我,因為他們的學生也會問他們同樣的問題。我也因此而精進了自己的文法知識。

Also, I didn’t have access to Grammarly and ChatGPT at that time, so I had to learn all these rules on my own. I further refined my grammatical knowledge as a textbook writer in Taiwan when teachers would grill me with every grammar question known to man because their students would ask them the same questions.

時至今日,我仍終日於學術與商業領域使用英語。人們期待我正確無誤地陳述意見,並成為一名有力的溝通者。詞彙與風格在這些場合中發揮著極其重要的作用,而實用的描述性的文法(descriptive grammar)則相當必要。沒人會希望你像個機器人一樣說話,並操著一口完美的文法。但如果你犯了系統性的錯誤 (systematic errors),便容易被人察覺。當然,這些錯誤會如何影響你的工作表現,將取決於你的工作以及具體情境。

Nowadays, I use English daily for professional purposes in both academia and business. I’m expected to speak without errors and be an effective communicator. Vocabulary and style play a significant role in these settings, and descriptive grammar is a given. No one expects you to speak like a robot and have perfect grammar, but if you are making systematic errors, they will be easily noticed. How these errors affect your job performance depends, of course, on your job and specific context.


However, without someone to point out your errors, it’s challenging—if not impossible—to discover them on your own. Yes, we can definitely use technology to eliminate them, but grammatical knowledge extends far beyond just copy-editing your paper.


A solid foundation in grammar enables one to construct clear and unambiguous sentences. Grammar also allows you to grasp the relationships between words, phrases, and clauses, enabling you to comprehend what is written and spoken—and what is not written and spoken—more effectively. This is particularly important when engaging in complex discussions or analyzing nuanced texts, as grammar provides a framework for examining all parts of language.

最後,透過扎實的文法基礎,你可以適應不同的寫作情境、風格,以及無自動化工具可以依賴的情況。總之,即便像 Grammarly ChatGPT 這樣的工具可以為我們糾正寫作的錯誤,但文法知識對有效溝通、職涯發展與深入語言仍然非常重要。

Lastly, by having a solid foundation in grammar, you can adapt to different writing contexts, styles, or situations where automated tools may not be readily available or reliable. In conclusion, while tools like Grammarly and ChatGPT can assist in correcting writing, grammatical knowledge remains important for effective communication, professional development, and a deeper understanding of language.

哇嗚,這真的是一個落落長的故事 (有我千字文的水準)!那麼,身為英語學習者,你該學習文法嗎?好吧,如果你還在尋找一個簡單的答案,我建議你重讀這個故事,並稍作思考。實際上,你是否需要上文法課,取決於你的情境以及你對英語的期望。

Whew, that was one long story! So, should you learn grammar as an English learner or not? Well, if you’re still looking for an easy answer, I recommend rereading the story and reflecting a bit. Whether you need a grammar course or not really depends on your context and what you hope to do with English.


希望你喜歡我的故事。如果你的孩子需要上文法課,我強烈推薦《英語與Ping:互動式英文文法課!開啟孩子的語言超能力》。我對Ping老師的教學有絕對的信心,相信她將幫助你的孩子有效地「注意到」(notice) 正確的文法規則與型態(rules and patterns),並學習它們。

📌 馬上了解課程>> https://url.wordup.com.tw/EmyNZ

I hope you enjoyed my story, and if you need a grammar course for your kids, I highly recommend “English with Ping: Interactive English Grammar Course! Unlocking Your Child’s Language Superpowers.” I have known Ping over the years and am confident she will help your kids effectively “notice” and learn correct grammar rules and patterns.


I also have an e-grammar guide I wrote for you if interested:



Press CTRL+F and type in the grammar pattern you are looking for and there should be a link redirecting you to more information


需要雙語版的同學請留言「Gosh, that was a long story.」。



Cummins, J. (2017). Teaching for transfer in multilingual school contexts. Bilingual and multilingual education, 3, 103-115.

Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition.