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Teach English in BAyantaohai Nongchang - Bayannao'er Shi — Bayan Nur
It is a well-known fact that no matter what language a person starts learning there could always be difficulties. For some people it might be the grammar – one of the most common problems as the majority of surveys report, some people cannot simply realize the fact that another language has a completely different sentence structure, word order, etc. I myself am not a native English speaker and thus remember what used to be challenging and what was quite easy for me. Having been teaching in China for a few years now I can say that Teaching English as a Second Language in China (ESL) is for the most part exciting and rewarding. Since I have been teaching both adults and children, I had many opportunities to study the most common problems for English learners there and compare them to my own experience as a student of English. When it comes to comparing English and Chinese, the first thing that most probably comes to mind is the alphabet or, in fact, its absence in the Chinese language, while English uses the Roman alphabet, consisting of 26 letters. Chinese uses a non-alphabetic script of characters, which represent words. Well, it would not be entirely true to say there is completely no alphabet in Chinese. I happen to speak quite decent Chinese and know for sure the Chinese language uses the same Roman alphabet as English for transcribing – pinyin. As we can see, the alphabet itself is not a problem, but the fact that some Roman letters in pinyin represent different sounds from their English equivalent. As a result, some learners might need additional time and practice to adjust to it, learn the sounds that letters possess in English in order to read and write correctly. The next common problem for many of my students has been pronunciation. It is true that it is challenging for the majority of native Chinese speakers to pronounce the English sounds [l] and [r]. Most of them can hear the difference between the two sounds, but cannot pronounce them correctly. I am helping my students with this by showing them physically how these sounds are made. However, this is not the only pronunciation issue Chinese speakers may encounter. Judging from my experience, Chinese-speaking people (no matter the age) tend to omit the ending sound of the words ending in consonants while pronouncing them. For example, [keik] becomes [kei]; pumpkin gets transformed into [ˈpʌmpkɪ] and so on. After conducting a research I discovered the source of the issue –it lies in the specifics of pronunciation of the Chinese language and there is only one possible solution to it – over-emphasizing the ending of a word to allow the students to see and hear as closely as possible the correct way of pronunciation and, of course, drilling. This above-mentioned point leads us directly to the next problem for English learners in China: transferring the rules of their first language to express something in their second language. Similar to the previous one, this is a common issue for both young and adult learners. This happens when students do not possess enough knowledge of the rules of the second language. The differences between the two languages can also be of a great influence. The differences between English and Chinese are countless. These differences lead to confusion of the appropriate gender and number inflection for subject and object pronouns. Since in spoken Mandarin there is no pronouns indicating the gender of the object or subject, students often confuse “he” with “she” and “him” with “her” and vice versa. The next common problem also takes its origin in the Chinese language: students do not add the –s to plurals. In Chinese, nouns stay the same, but the “counting words” are used to form the plural form of nouns. It is common to hear sentences like “I like apple” or “Monkey like banana”. This grammatical error happens not only in writing, but appears frequently in speaking, too. Due to the fact, that in Chinese there is no strict grammar structure to indicate the time relevance whether it is Present, Past or Future, typical sentences that can be found in the writing and speaking of ESL students are “I eat dumplings yesterday” and “He eat rice”, instead of “I ate dumplings yesterday” and “He eats rice”. One more issue worth mentioning is that students are confused about when to use the articles “a/an” and “the” and when to omit them, because there is no lexical equivalent for them in Chinese. They often place the definite article in front of a proper name, like “I want to go to the Shanghai next month” or “I like the Jack’s car”. In general, problems for Chinese learners of English are not much different from any other non-native students’, with only a few exceptions which are caused by the specifics of the Chinese language itself and its great difference from English. To sum up I’d like to say that according to my experience in teaching English in China, it is important to help your students reform the way they think, help them understand the way English works and how it is different from Chinese by exposing them to a large variety of English and enhancing your student’s communicative abilities.