Learning without Context
Learning without context is kind of like watching someone else paint their own picture. Days upon days can be spent observing their movements and how they reach the end goal but I will be left with no idea as to how they do what they do. Their internalisation of the skillset remains hidden from view. The skill has long become automatic for them, to the extent that large chunks of the process are no longer in their conscious awareness.
Grammar Before the Fact
As a student of foreign languages I spent a lot of my formative years operating with the assumption that real world conversations began at the intersection of where I had mastered the grammatical rules. However, this assumption was flawed. What actually happened was I had an endless amount of information in my head that was getting in the way of the real world conversations I had longed to have with native speakers of my target language.
Learning from Context
Eventually I began to see that learning from context is a much more effective approach. When learning from context I am able to harness my innate curiosity and desire to learn. When interacting in Spanish I wanted my knowledge to deepen in order to convey my message more accurately and precisely. I wanted to become a better listener in order to hear the subtle nuances that can go unnoticed to the untrained ear.
I was able to do this from real world interactions and listening to real world material, I could turn to books when I noticed the inevitable gaps in my knowledge. With a context I stopped living in my imagined reality of a day when I would be able to speak and instead I began to take steps from where I was already standing.