Teach English in HuangshAgang Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Learning a foreign language is an active process that requires a lot of patience, constant practice and efforts. During this process of forming a new knowledge, learners face a lot of difficulties and make a lot of mistakes due to many internal and external factors; these difficulties vary from one person to another and from one nationality to another. As an English language teacher that has experience in Morocco and China, the focus in this essay will be on some problems that Moroccan and Chinese learners face when learning English. Learners from all over the world tend to find difficulties when learning English, and it’s assumed that people from the same nationality can go through the same difficulties that hinder the process of learning due to many reasons, one of them is the influence of all the languages learned before by the learner. Most Moroccans are bilingual which means they speak more than one language; this affects negatively on students as they rely on their previous knowledge and apply the rules that they have already in their minds. Moroccan learners tend to make a lot of written and spoken mistakes because of the interference of Moroccan Arabic and French, they assume that the foreign language is similar to their first language and use the literal words as in Moroccan Arabic which changes the whole meaning for example: saying let’s cut the road instead of let’s cross the road. There is also the confusion between some French words with English ones especially when it comes to written assignments due to the similarity between these two languages such as writing ‘envie’ instead of ‘envy’, these words look similar but they have different meanings or the addition of the final ‘e’ to the words that they already exist in French for instance: ‘groupe’, ‘importante’ instead of ‘group’ and ‘important’. Chinese and English belong to two different language families Sino-Tibetan and Germanic, the most obvious difference between these two languages is the alphabet and which many learners find difficult because they have to learn a completely new language system with a different alphabet. Many Chinese learners find difficulties in pronouncing some sounds and words for example: /v/ is absent in Chinese language so a lot of learners pronounce it as /w/ therefore ‘lovely’ might be pronounced as ‘lowley’, the same thing for /θ/ as it might be replaced by /t/ or /s/ that’s why; it’s common in China to hear ‘sank’ or ‘tank’ you instead of ‘thank you’. Additionally, there is no gender distinction when it comes to the spoken form of Chinese so the pronouns he, she and it are considered to be the same thus; many learners confuse between them in spoken English. Moreover, students often omit the final‘s’ when referring to the plural because in Chinese there are no plural words, only a number is placed in front of the noun instead of ending the word with‘s’, Chinese learners are facing some difficulties in terms of first language interference, they are referring to their mother tongue and the rules they have already established because they haven’t acquired the patterns of English yet. Throughout my experience as a teacher to both Moroccan and Chinese learners, I have noticed that some learning problems are common to most learners such as: mixing between tenses, word order, mixing adverbs with adjectives, spelling mistakes that are represented in writing its instead of it’s, and others that are specific to learners from the same nationality like the interference of the first language or all the languages learned before. Most of the difficulties that Moroccan and Chinese learners encounter in the process of learning English are because of the influence of the prior language knowledge that they already have. In Morocco, students reflect on both their first language and French in learning English whereas in China they apply some Chinese linguistic features. Learning English for both Moroccan and Chinese students specifically; for beginners is challenging because they are still in the process of forming new knowledge, this negative transfer can occur because of differences or similarities between the new language and any other language that has been previously acquired. To conclude, learning a language is a never-ending process; it begins at birth and continues throughout life. However, Moroccan and Chinese learners face several problems when learning English, both of them transfer elements of one language into the learning of another except they make different mistakes; this happens often in the initial stages of learning but once they grasp the basic rules of the target language and they are familiar with it, they make few interference errors.