Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Influence of Mother Tongue in Learning English

We at TEFL Chiang Mai English Language Certification  (a fully accredited and globally recognized TEFL program) strive for our students  to learn conversational English with the latest proven strategies and methods, but share up to date pedagogy and strategies as part of our teachers career development through the latest teaching paradigms.

Understanding the Influence of Asian languages for students learning English is an important part of the acquisition process. Here is an excellent article that discusses this topic in general terms and may serve as an important reminder for how much native language patterns shape the ways in which people everywhere struggle with different aspects of English grammar. 

Tips for Teaching English to Asian Students

 on July 3, 2007 11:13 AM

If you have a large number of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese students in your English-as-a-second-language classes, you might want to purchase the summer copy of MultiCultural Review (a single copy is $25) or find one in a library. The issue, which isn't free online, contains an article, "Asian ESL Students and Literacy Development," that tells about the learning styles of Asian students and summarizes some differences between several Asian languages and English. It's written by Peter Edwards, a professor of education at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., and Hui-Chin Yang, a professor of education at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The article says "one characteristic of the Asian learning style is a teacher-centered, closure-oriented learning mode, leading Asian students to dislike ambiguity, uncertainty, or fuzziness." I recall how when I was an English teacher in China nearly two decades ago, I had a student who believed he could become fluent in English by learning all of the grammar rules for the language. To be able to connect with my Chinese students and build on what they already knew, I had to learn quite a lot about English grammar.

The comparisons between languages offer insight not commonly discussed in education journals. In the Korean language, disagreement is expressed more directly and forcefully than it is in American English. In Chinese, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs don't have suffixes. The word, "happy," for instance, can be used as several parts of speech without any change, while in English the word changes to "happily" or "happiness."

You teachers have a challenge to explain to students why English is the way it is, and it can't hurt to know where students might be helped or hindered by influences from their native languages. By the way, does anyone have a good explanation for why I need the word "does" in this question? I know from my own teaching experience that it's hard to come up with explanations for some of this stuff on one's feet.


As part of TEFL Chiang Mai's goal to increase cultural and religious sensitivity among our participants, we also offer a TEFL Buddhist Exchange program where future TEFL teachers have the opportunity not only to become certified instructors but to participate as student's of the Buddhist philosophy and tradition with daily monk chats and dharma talks to better understand the religious beliefs which permeates our student's lives through out many parts of South East Asia. For more information and registration for this, or any of the "Paradise TEFL" franchise programs, please don't hesitate to contact us today!

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