The ESL Grammar connection method

English The ESL Grammar connection method

There are many sites that give you lists of English words and phrases, but there aren’t many websites that tell you HOW to learn English or teach you techniques for learning English.

The ESL Grammar connection method is a great learning technique for English students and teachers. Make English grammar easy! 

I have been teaching since 1991 and teaching
English to ESL students since 2006. 

I use a method of teaching English grammar that I call the Connection Method. I have used this technique to help improve the English level of my all my students:

  • Elementary, Jr. high school, and high school students
  • University and medical school students
  • Doctors, nurses, hospital staff 
  • IT and legal department managers, international sales staff and more!

The ESL Grammar connection method is a great learning technique for ESL students and teachers. It can help make English grammar easy to remember.  With this technique, you will connect new English grammar to real experiences from your own life. Real examples and memories that have extra meaning for you. 

English Grammar practice sentences that are connected to your own experiences are easier to remember. 

5 Memory Association Techniques for students says:

“It helps to use a real-life memory, your mind already remembers that on its own.”

Here is a real example.

One day during my Japanese lesson, my teacher was teaching me how to talk about a recent trip I took. I was still a beginner, so the first sentence was very simple.

I went to Hakone with my girlfriend.” *Of course, I learned this in Japanese!

I was very happy to have a real-life sentence. I could use this sentence with my Japanese friends because it was a real-life experience.

Please compare my real-life sentence to a sentence example you might find in a grammar textbook:

Textbook: “Jim went to Italy with his wife.Real-life: “I went to Hakone with my girlfriend.

Both examples use the same grammar.

Grammar point 1. Past tense verb
~went is the past tense of the verb go
Grammar point 2. The preposition to with places
~we go to a place

Textbook Jim went to Italy…

Real-life I went to Hakone…
Grammar point 3. The preposition with
~with = accompanied by (another person or thing).
Grammar point 4. Possessive pronouns my and his
~possessive pronouns show that something belongs to someone or something or is connected to someone or something
Textbook with his wife.

Real-life with my girlfriend.

Both examples use the same grammar, BUT…

The first example is someone else’s story. I don’t know Jim or his wife and I have never been to Italy.

Jim went to Italy with his wife.
This is not my own experience.

The second example is from my real-life experience. It is connected to a real memory. It’s my own experience so it’s easy for me to remember!

I went to Hakone with my girlfriend.

Real photos [real memories] from my trip.


The web-page Memory Improvement TIPS says that visual images are easier to remember than just words.

“These images are literally mental hooks that allow you to retrieve the information from your long-term memory.”

Your personal experiences are visual AND emotional! A great way to connect your new English.

Grammar that I connected to my own experience was very easy to remember. It was also very easy to use in a natural conversation.

Of course, textbooks are very helpful, I use them a lot! The ESL Grammar connection method is an extra tool that you can use to make your grammar lessons even better. *I would love to visit Italy someday. I just don’t have that experience, yet…

This works with advanced English too!

Here’s an example of how you might use the ESL Grammar connection methods in your own study. This example is from a textbook called Cambridge – English Grammar in Use. I really like this textbook because it teaches with lots of examples. (Just like me!) This is an example from the text:

Textbook I almost fell as I was going down the stairs.

Real-life I almost fell as I was getting off my bicycle.

This is a true story. My backpack got caught on the seat when I was getting off my bicycle. I almost fell!”

Don’t change the grammar of the sentence, just the subject or the object. Choose something that is easy for you to remember. 

You can use this method with different grammar points, anything you need to study. This method can help you improve any area you like. For example:

Use prepositions you have learned to describe your own room

What is on the wall? 
There is a picture of my family on the wall of my room.

What is in the corner? 
There is a small plant in the corner of my room.

What is under your bed? 
I have a box of camping gear under my bed.

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I used this technique to correct a mistake I was making in Japanese.

今回 vs. 次回

I was always confusing the phrases this time and next time.

I would often say things like “See you this time!” to my Japanese friends after a night out!


So I used the Grammar Connection method to fix this mistake! I connected this grammar to a real experience. Please read the following example:

My wife and I went shopping at an outlet mall in Tokyo. There were lots of great stores and we had a fun day. As we were leaving we saw a pizza restaurant near the train station. We talked (in English) about eating at the pizza restaurant next time. I made a sentence (in Japanese) about this experience, using the Grammar connection method. This was my practice sentence:

“Today was awesome! Let’s have dinner at the pizza restaurant the next time we come.

Today REALLY was awesome. (I bought new shoes and a leather belt, they were very cheap!) I’m also excited to eat at the pizza restaurant the next time we come. (I love pizza!) I locked the correct phrase for ‘next time’ into a real experience in my mind.

I have not confused those 2 phrases since!

Be careful!

This is a powerful technique for learning English so make sure you are using it with good examples. Check the grammar you want to practice before you make your example sentence. Look in your textbook or ask your native speaking teacher or a native speaking friend. Don’t connect your experience to a sentence with incorrect grammar!

Now you have connected your new English to your own experience. You can remember it much easier the next time you want to use it. Example sentences that use new grammar to describe your own life are easy to remember.

“But what if I don’t have my own matching experience?”
No problem.
Just think of your favorite characters from TV, movies, comics etc. Someone or something that you like. Use these characters as the subjects for the example sentences with your new grammar. Here’s another example:
The Avengers

2 days a week I teach kids at a special English conversation school. Students learn English by doing regular and interesting activities with instruction all in English. In one activity we used flash cards to learn some new verbs, new actions. One of my students really loves Marvel superheroes and movies. After we saw the flashcards we made our own example sentences using the the action words we just learned.

“Captain America washes the dishes after dinner.” “Spiderman rides his bike to school every day.” “The Hulk ate some ice cream.”

The examples were silly and fun and, most important, they are very easy to remember for my student! They were easy to remember because they were connected to comic book characters that he already loves. 

You can use any dream or fantasy that already lives in your brain.

By using experiences from your own life you can remember new grammar easily when you need it. I often use this technique myself with Japanese grammar. When I connect new vocabulary, new grammar or a new phrase to my own experience, it’s much easier to remember. I have used this method many times in MANY situations, it has been very helpful!

Give it a try today! Choose some English that is hard to remember or something that you just learned. Write an example in the comments and we can all learn together 😁

Here are 2 of my most popular blog posts that you can use with the ESL Grammar connection Method:


Textbook image from:
Boca Tutor [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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