Teach English in HuashAn Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Linguistic problems for Turkish English-learners and ideas for the teacher to deal with them. A reflection on the difficulties that Turkish people are facing when learning English according to my experiences after five years in Turkey.    Introduction.    Turkish people are facing three significant problems when learning English. The first one is a pronunciation problem and the second is a sentence structure. In addition to this, there is a different use of articles in the English language that can be confusing for the Turkish English-learner.   Pronunciation.   The Turkish language went through a reformation in the 1920s and -30s. Before the reform, Turkey used Arabic letters which made it difficult to learn to read and write. As a part of Ataturk's vision that everyone should get an education, the Arabic alphabet was replaced by a 29-letter Latin Alphabet. Rather than transcribe old Ottoman Turkish, linguists worked out new spellings from how words sounded in modern Turkish. This means that the words are spelt exactly as they sound, with one letter per sound. This results in double consonants are pronounced separately, and double vowels sounds are not in use. Take, for example, the word film. For a Turkish person, even though it is a borrowed word, this would be read "filim" because the double consonants have to be separated by a vowel sound. When one applies this way to articulate every letter in an English word, it often results in a pronunciation that is clumsy and hard to comprehend. This affect primarily adult learners that are learning mostly by reading and writing.  To help students overcome this hurdle, there are a few different methods that I find useful.  The first is to drill pronunciation in class, not only words but certain consonant combinations, like cl-, gl-, st- etc. And different single and double vowel sounds. Second, to get the students to record themselves or to help them to do so. It is hard to hear how one pronounces things because one already has a "picture" of the sounds in the head. Listening to a recording gives the student a possibility to be much more objective and to compare it to a native speaker. The third is to get the students to listen as much as possible to actual language from movies, songs, etc.     Sentence structure.   The second problem for Turkish speakers is the sentence structure. In English, except for the most straightforward sentences, the verb appears typically in the opening part of the sentence. For example, ¨My son ate dog food yesterday¨. In Turkish, however, the verb will be at the end of the sentence. Oğlum dün köpek maması yedi. If we translate this literally, it will be ¨My son yesterday dog food ate.¨ This gives an anticipation to what did my son actually do. Did he buy it? Eat it? And this sometimes causes hesitation when the Turkish speaker is translating into English. Another difficulty is the structure of questions. In Turkish, questions are constructed by adding a form of ¨mi¨ at the end of the sentence, but in English, we add the auxiliary verb at the beginning.  Example;  Did he arrive? Geldi mi?  Is he coming? Gelir mi? Will he come..? Gelecek mi? These problems mostly occur in writing. When communicating verbally, this usually is not such a big problem because of the live interaction with the other part.  Students are encouraged to read a lot to get used to the English sentence structures.    The Articles, pronouns and auxiliary verbs.   In Turkish, definite and indefinite articles are not used in the same extent as is in English. There are also no auxiliary verbs. For example, ¨The dog is brown¨ will in Turkish be ¨Köpek kahverengi¨. (Dog brown.) The verb to be in all its forms are not valid in Turkish language, such as "They are blue", will be "onlar mavi" ("they blue") The same can be seen with the verb have. In English the forms have and has are not valid in Turkish language. "I have a ball" is "Bir topum var" in Turkish and also "he has a ball" is "Bir topu var". Ball has suffixes to show the belonging in Turkish. As we can see, there is no article and no auxiliary verb. The correct use is something that takes a lot of practice for the Turkish student. An excellent way to teach the right application is to drill expressions and the conjugations of the auxiliary verbs, especially be. It can also be helpful to sing songs.   Personal pronouns   Turkish has only one third-person singular pronoun, and this makes it difficult for the Turkish student to remember when to use he, she or it. The most significant confusion appears to be between he and she in all their forms, as the words are so close to each other. Turkish also uses suffixes to tell who is doing something; this causes a bit of extra confusion in this matter. "He is coming" would in Turkish be, "Geliyor", which is the same as she is coming and it is coming. Again there is no auxiliary verb. In the case of "I am coming", "geliyorum" in Turkish or "They are coming" "geliyorlar" in Turkish. As we can see in the examples, there are no auxiliary verbs in Turkish and for Turkish speakers is not easy to use them correctly.   These last difficulty is a problem that seem to stay the longest. Even advanced speakers tend to mix up he and she and to forget the articles. To me, it looks like it disappears when someone has lived in an English speaking country for a while and thus been exposed to English in daily life.