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Teach English in Dongrangkou Zhen - Enshi Tujiazu Miaozu Zizhizhou
In Taiwan, the primary language is Mandarin. Since Mandarin is a non-Latin-based language, it is completely different than English and doesn’t share many of the same grammar concepts as English. This, in particular, makes learning English more difficult for Taiwanese students and there are many common difficulties Taiwanese students will face when learning English as a foreign language. In English, there is a different word that can be used to describe whether the person you are referring to is either a male, female or an animal. For example; if the particular person being talked about is a male, this person would be referred to as ‘he’ and if the person is a female she would be referred to as ‘she’. However, in Mandarin, the spoken word is the same for everyone but it changes when written. Unlike English, Mandarin doesn’t have a phonic alphabet. Every word is a single character meaning that sometimes the character can be written differently but pronounced exactly the same. He, she and it in Mandarin are all pronounced as ‘ta’, making it very easy for Taiwanese students to make mistakes when talking about people. It’s very common for Taiwanese to refer to their male friend as being a she and vice versa. Mandarin is a much older language than English so it differs greatly from English. Many of the grammar rules found in English such as the changing of verb tenses, simply don’t exist in Mandarin. This makes it very difficult for Taiwanese learners. In English, the form of verbs will change depending on when the verb took place. For example; the English verb ‘go’ changes to ‘went’ in the past tense, ‘gone’ in past or present perfect and ‘going’ in the continuous tense. In Mandarin, the word for ‘go’ is exactly the same regardless of the time being talked about. Therefore, it is difficult for Taiwanese learners to know when to change the verb form. It is a common mistake for Taiwanese learners to forget to change the verb form when speaking or writing in English. With Mandarin being so different than English, not only can grammar be very confusing but like most people learning a foreign language, the correct pronunciation is very difficult as well. One of the hardest sounds to pronounce in English for Taiwanese learners is the vowel ‘A’ as in ‘apple’ and the ‘th’ sound as in ‘the’. Mandarin doesn’t have these sounds so Taiwanese learners have no way to relate and have to practice this a lot. Also, it is very difficult for Taiwanese to differentiate between the pronunciation of ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ since the difference in pronunciation is very subtle, it’s easy for Taiwanese to not know the difference and use the wrong one in a sentence. Mandarin and English are such different languages so it is so understandable why Taiwanese would struggle with certain aspects. Being Taiwanese myself, I also struggled with these differences but since I had a great interest in learning English, I always pushed myself to remember and constantly trained myself to not make these mistakes. There no easy solution to overcome these difficulties other than practice, practice and more practice. My advice to learners in Taiwan is to never give up and keep on practicing.