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Problems for ESL Learners in ChinaAlthough studying a second language presents problems for all learners, it is important to examine similar problems faced by learners with similar language background. With the economic growth in China, it has been important for chinese students and workers alike to learn and study english to compete in the global economy. Thus it is important to determine the challenges chinese ESL students face in learning english.
Pronunciation is one of the major problem for chinese ESL students. First, chinese is a tone language which means different tones imply different meanings. For english, pitch is used to emphasize or display emotion but not necessarily different meaning for words. This concept might be difficult to grasp for chinese students. english also has more vowel than chinese which means students will have difficulties distinguishing between all the vowel sounds of english. For example, did and deed might be difficult for students to pronounce and distinguish the difference. Another major problem is the final consonant in english which is rare in chinese. For example, students might have a difficult time pronouncing faith due to the final consonant component and the th sound which does not exist in chinese.
For writing and reading, chinese learners might have difficulties reading and spelling words because the chinese language does not use the alphabet system. chinese have characters which represents the word themselves. Because of this students might have difficulties spelling words or reading texts because letters have to be spelled out and combined to represent words. Another problem to anticipate is that absolute beginners might have no knowledge of the Roman alphabet . This means that teachers have to teach writing of the actual alphabet as well as the sounds each alphabet makes.
Another aspect of english that presents problems even for native speakers is grammar. english depends on verb tense to convey meaning. “chinese, on the other hand, is an uninflected language and conveys meaning through word order, adverbials or shared understanding of the context” (esl.fis.edu.) english verb tense is therefore very complex and challenging for chinese students. Another major grammar issue is the use of articles in english. chinese does not have articles so the concept is complete new and difficult for students to use correctly. Word order can also be very confusing. For english word order is rearranged for questions while in chinese questions have question words at the end and does not require rearrangement of words. Finally, phrasal verbs used in english does not exist in chinese and can present a challenge in getting students to use and understand. For example, chinese students might not understand the difference between give and give up. Lastly, modal verbs which imply different degrees and meanings in english has limited existence in the chinese language. Teachers will need to emphasize this aspect of the language for chinese students to ensure thorough understanding.
Cultural differences play a huge role in effective teaching and learning. Teachers must be careful to consider cultural differences which may impede or limit understanding and try to correct for these issues. For example, chinese students may be more shy than students in the united states
so teachers have to account for this difference and use encouragement to get students to speak in class to practice speaking skills. Although students will vary with their preferences, research from Colorado State University shows that chinese students have a major preference for tactile and auditory learning style. Based on this knowledge, teachers should focus on their lesson plan on addressing these learning styles while being careful not to ignore the other preferences in the class. It is important to note that the research shows negative preference for group learning in chinese students. Since group work can sometimes be very important to teaching a new language, teachers should try to minimize the burden or hesitation that students might experience while working in groups.
chinese students have unique issues with learning english that have to be addressed. Teachers have to be mindful of pronunciation, writing, grammar and cultural aspects unique to chinese students to teach effectively. Examining and anticipating these issues in advance can help teachers plan their lessons better.