Problems faced by students of dfferent nationalities The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis hit the nail


The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis hit the nail on the head when they said that the language we learn as a child strongly influences the way we think and view the world. Therefore, by no means is language a neutral entity but in fact makes us the people we are. (www.Sapirwhorf.com)

English is a language that is taken for granted by those of us who are brought up speaking it, I say this because, even thou English is a very flexi-ble language it is full of idiosyncrasies which are difficult for foreigners to cope with.

Communication between people of different cultures is the process by which we challenge people's values, beliefs and ways of expressing themselves, too often miscommunication between people of different cultures stems not from linguistic incompetence but from cultural differences. Students of other nationalities who are learning English have a lot of things to keep in mind while learning the language for instance students need to be aware of verbal and non-verbal communication which native speakers fol-low.( Oskaar & Willems)

ESL students also need to be aware of when to be silent, whom to talk to, and what topics may and may not be discussed, if communication should be oral or written, and which style of language is appropriate for a particular situation. Some of the problems faced by students of other nationalities while writing English have been broken down very well in Johns (1991). 'Lacks of background knowledge appropriate to the discipline - ESL students are unable to put the readings for an essay into the full his-torical context. 'Problems with interpreting and producing macro-purposes of written texts - students often are able to remember the details in a text but they do not obtain the full picture. 'Lack of planning in approaching reading or writing - reading time is spent on checking the meanings of words and an overall view of the text is not gained. When writing, students do not have a plan but have a list of points with no argument developed. 'Lack of conceptual imagination. The students have a problem extend-ing a concept to examples or facts and tying the facts back to a con-cept. 'Lack of vocabulary especially sub technical terms. 'Students´ "unwillingness" to be objective about their value systems - they cannot separate their values from the ideas covered in the text and they respond emotionally because their values are threatened. The entire communication problems aside lets not forget the problems stu-dents tend to have with grammar. I can see where some of them may stem from, as English speakers we don't always understand everything, so how would the average ESL student.

In the Dartmouth writing program the following were considered some of the main errors faced by students learning English as a second language. (www.dartmouth.edu/writing/materials/tutor/problems/esl.shtml) Number One: Articles Number Two: Prepositions Number Three: Infinitives Number Four: Using the Wrong Parts of Speech Number Five: Agreement Number Six: Verb Tense and Forms Number Seven: Active and Passive Voices Number Eight: Sentence Structure/Sentence Boundaries Number Nine: Punctuations There are a lot more but these are the most common and often seen or heard. Conclusion:

English is a Strange and powerful language and the need to empower oneself is taking on a sense of urgency, this is probably because English is slowly but surely becoming the LINGUA FRANCA of the world, more and more people are becoming aware that it is one way to move up the economic lad-der and become a part of mainstream society. We all know the saying that the path to success is not an easy one, but for those out there who are taking the steps to self betterment the success is so much sweeter.





References: Oskaar, P. (1993), Intercultural communication, Language Teaching, 26: 144-1

Wllem, G.M. (1996), Foreign language study for intercultural communication, Multicultural Teach-ing, 14(3): 36-40.

Johns, A. (1991). Faculty assessment of ESL student literacy skills: Implications for writing assess-ment. In L. Hamp-Lyons (Ed), Assessing Second Language Writing in Academic Contexts (pp. 167- 179). Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation