I watch Thai kids learning grammar; they can diagram English sentences at age twelve but almost tremble with fear when addressed with "How are you?" (as often as not they say "I am 12 years old.")
My educated Thai teacher wife, whose spoken grammar is no better than an uneducated bar girl, teaches her 13-year-old niece the fine points of grammar as I try to teach her to just converse. Seen on a blackboard, English grammar now strikes me as extremely difficult, though I was required to learn it myself, to a very strict standard. The more grammar the girl learns the more tongue-tied she seems to get. It seems to me that the grammar is just confusing and intimidating her, and I am afraid she will end up like the majority of Thais with up to twelve years of studying English: hardly able to speak English at all.
My wife says grammar is essential to pass exams, even though she agrees with me that Thai education beyond high school except for technical specialties is pretty much a waste of time, as it now beginning to appear to be in the US as well.
I am slowly arriving at the position that in today's world grammar and college are little more than outdated social pretensions of declining significance.
My question: Is there any body of well-considered thought that supports my thinking on this?