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The Advent of Chinglish and Ways to Improve Language Teaching in China

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    The Advent of Chinglish and Ways to Improve Language Teaching in China

    The Advent of Chinglish and Ways to Improve Language Teaching in China
    Admin - Dec 26 2015

    While China remains a good career destination for native English speakers planning to teach English abroad, it also poses a slew of challenges that might intimidate novice ESL or EFL practitioners. On top of travel and immigration hurdles, the language classroom itself constitutes a challenging environment, according to veteran educators who have first-hand knowledge of the field.

    While Chinese students are eager to learn, there are reports of language learners committing the same mistakes repeatedly. This is primarily because many learners tend to apply the linguistic rules of Chinese to express themselves in a second or foreign language even when the rules do not apply. This transference of the Mandarin syntax to a second language often results to a poor variant of English, which is affectionately or disparagingly called Chinglish.

    Key Differences Between Mandarin and English Grammar

    Academics refer to the unwanted outcomes of this transference as language interference errors. These errors primarily arise from the phonological and structural variance between two languages. If the variance is considerable, the learning difficulty is likely to be considerable as well. In the case of Mandarin and English, the differences are sky-high, leading to grammatical confusion in terms of gender, pronoun use and other linguistic elements.

    1. For example, Chinese learners alternatively misuse the pronouns he, she, him, and her in different contexts. This is because Mandarin implements gender-neutral pronouns.

    2. Another case of syntactic non-concordance is the how verbs in Mandarin are commonly encountered and used at the latter part of sentences. In contrast, English verbs are often located in the middle.

    3. Another major variance is the concept of plurality. In Mandarin, plurality is indicated using counting words while an “s” is usually appended to nouns to signify plurality in English. This difference results to Chinese learners repeatedly not placing an “s” to obviously plural nouns or subjects.

    4. In Mandarin, a specific time frame is often used in sentences, which results to unwieldly English translations like “I last night drink tea.”

    5. Definite articles are not used in Mandarin, causing students to misuse English articles in sentences such as “My teacher come from the New York.”

    6. English language educators in China consider the use of nouns, adjectives and adverbs as the most error-ridden area in the learning of English in the country. For one thing, suffixes are not used in Manadarin nouns, adjectives and adverbs as they are extensively in English. For example, the Mandarin word for “happy” can be used as a noun, adverb or adjective in Chinese without changing its form. This results to grammatically incorrect sentences in English like “She dance wonderful.” instead of “She dances wonderfully.”

    Future Learning Improvement

    As things stand, the teaching of English in China primarily focus on developing speaking skills, leading to a minimal coverage of grammatical rules. This results to students not having an adequate background on English grammar, using instead the rules they have learned for Mandarin.

    A good starting point to address the problem is to clarify the major differences between the two languages at the very start. This knowledge will form a foundational platform upon which learners can expand their English skills without falling into the trap of misappropriating Mandarin grammar into English.

    According to one research, the most crucial improvement necessary in reforming how English is taught in Chinese schools is the simultaneous enhancement of students’ speaking and writing abilities. This requires the introduction of a new generation of textbooks and learning aids that will help improve the communicative abilities of students in English.


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