Teach English in SAnfengsi Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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The Chinese language is related to the Sino-Tibetan language. It is divided into a variety of dialects, among which Mandarin (Putonghua) is the official language of China. Considering the fact that the English and Chinese languages belong to different language groups, numerous challenges in studying these languages appear. Written language: The Chinese language is based on Chinese characters (logograms), while English is based on the alphabet, which includes 26 letters. Thus any Chinese students who begins to learn English will have to learn a totally new language system and the new rules of constructing words that comes with it. Grammar - Structure of a sentence: Both of these languages have SVO order( Subject-Verb-Object) for the major sentence constituents; however, there are few differences between the sentence construction. 1. Most of the tenses that exist in English do not exist in Chinese. From the sentence you can only see past tense which is presented by the character 过/了or future tense which is presented by 将. Thus when Chinese students start learning English they can get confused by the amount of tenses, in addition to irregular verbs. 2. Another major difference between Chinese and English sentence structure is the use of articles. In Chinese language, there a variety of measure words for different types of objects, which in English can be presented by the words this/that, these/those or a/the. To make clear differences between all these words can become a big challenge for a teacher. 3. It might be hard to explain the proper use of the auxiliary verbs “do, did, does”. 4. The question words in Chinese are mostly found at the end of the sentence: Subject- Verb- Question (What , Who, Where, How about). However some question words/ phrases have the same position as English: Why, How, When, Which. 5. The division into genders in Chinese exist only in written language, in speech it can be recognized only from the context(he, she , it all sound like “ta”). In English, gender plays a major role in the sentence construction, for example: whether to add or not s/es at the end of a verb; in particular types of questions - which form of auxiliary verb to write - do/does, have/has etc.. 6. Singular and plural forms are mostly not used in the Chinese language. Except in the case for a group of people, the word 们 is added, but for most of the objects, the plural forms are understood from the context. Thus Chinese students can face the problem of recognizing the difference between is/are, do/does and with the s/es at the end of some words. 7. The place of the verbal modifiers in sentences. In Chinese all the adverbs and adverbials occur before verbs and phrases, whereas they can occur before or after verbs/verb phrases in English. Pronunciation: • The interference from the first language(Chinese) can cause errors in aspiration, stress and intonation. Sounds from the language of study can be substituted with similar ones from the students’ native tongue (the substitution of /s/ or /z/ for the English /ð/, /ai/ or /e/ for the English /æ/). Pronunciation of some particular sounds (th, long/short sounds, r, p/b) , therefore there is a high likelihood that students might have trouble perceiving these sounds and then producing them. • Chinese is a syllable-timed language while English is a stress-timed language and therefore they have a great deal of differences in stress and rhythmic patterns. • Chinese language is a tone language, therefore while speaking Chinese the pronunciation of words might be distorted. Intonation: Intonation patterns in English sentences primarily indicate the degree of certainty of an utterance, i.e. whether is a statement, questions, or suggestion. Most questions in rising intonation, however, Wh- questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how) end with falling intonation. Therefore to clearly communicate the meaning of a sentence and to avoid unwittingly expressing negative emotions, it is important for students to learn intonations. Teaching vocabulary: The tendency of borrowing words from English is a new phenomenon, thus the biggest part of Chinese vocabulary is not phonetically similar to English language. The presented problems are not the only ones that Chinese students might face while learning English, but the most common ones. It is highly important for a teacher to be aware of difficulties students might experience, so to pay more attention while teaching this type of material.