Common errors Chinese students make

I believe in the 80/20 principle according to which 20% of your efforts will give you 80% of your desired results and vice versa. It goes without saying that these percentages are nothing but a way of showing the imbalance between input and output in any system. If you look at an old carpet, you’ll notice that only a very small area gets trodden upon and therefore a small preccaution could prevent major expenses. I believe that except for normal teaching, we should also concentrate on those few common errors that students make and repeat. I know that most of these errors are due to their mother language. Here are some I’ve picked up.

  1. Me is (I am)
  2. eat medicine (take medicine)
  3. Words ending in “ge” or “ch” usually get an “i” added on
    like French, orange
  4. There have (There is/are)
  5. My house have

I can’t believe that these are the only ones that come to mind right now. I’ll have to add some later.

I have found this link but there are a few mistakes even in the “correct” usuage.

englishdaily626.com/c-errors.php?002

There are quite a few:

Using the singular when the plural should be used.
Using the past perfect when the present perfect or simple past should be used.
Tense switching.
Confusion of “he” and “she”.
Trouble pronouncing final consonants.
Not placing a space after a period or comma on a typed page.
Using “the” when not needed, or not using “the” when needed.

But I’ve never heard a Chinese person use “me” when “I” is called for.

[quote=“Chris”]
But I’ve never heard a Chinese person use “me” when “I” is called for.[/quote]

Maybe it was an isolated case. I’ve been trying to get a certain boy to stop saying it for months now. His name is Alan.

I’ve got one! I’ve got one!!!

“Because…, so…”

The bored-boring, interested-interesting, etc. errors. Every year, I do the same lesson: If something is boring it makes you feel bored. And the borrow/lend thing. “Teacher, can you borrow me a pen?” “No, but I can lend you a pen or you can borrow a pen from me.” Just think…there are now 48 or so Taiwanese kids out there who know how to say these things right. Maybe they’ll pass this on to their friends who will pass it on to their friends and stamp out the phrase “Can you borrow me a…” once and for all. Then again, I am being optimistic.

Another few pet peeves of mine: “What means this?” “What we do now?” “Why you say that?”…Most of these came from one particular kid this summer. I actually felt the need to outright correct him and then refuse to answer his questions after the first few times of being corrected until he asked me “in English”. He knew the right way to say it, but he probably picked up bad habits from his Chinese school. Kinda like my cousin Bianca asking my mother, “Who dat be?”, my mother saying, “Excuse me?” and her saying, “Oh, who is that?”. Just lazy speaking habits. I have an uphill battle with the upcoming class because I know the person who taught them would ignore such bad grammar, chalking it up to them just being Taiwanese and therefore incurable of bad spoken grammar. :unamused:

The bored/interesting/exciting one is hardly isolated to Taiwanese students. I’ve heard Mexicans and others from varying non-English speaking nations make the same mistake. Here’s some that instantly spread to mind.

I very like this thread’s topic.
It’s me. (meaning it’s mine) I always say Hello (insert student’s English name________) to the object.
Backwards 'b’s. and ‘d’: Happy father’s bay bab for the bay defore yesterbay.

one, two, three, four, fi, six-uh seven, eight, ni, ten, eleven, twelve, thirty, fourty, fivety, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, twenty twenty-one., twenty-two…fivety.
Look book. Rather than read a book but that is just a direct translation problem. Sentences with times are often problematic for the same reason.

I buy groceries from the supermonkey.
I don’t know how this confusion happens but I’ve had a few students say chicken instead of kitchen.

Matchstick man, it sounds like we teach the same students. There’s just one I don’t get: " I always say Hello…"

I greet the object with the student’s name when they say it’s me rather than it’s mine. It wasn’t a mistake. It’s my way of trying to get my students to realise where the mistake is.

Yes, I also get that a lot. I find humor helps a lot, but with some touchy students I use it sparingly. Sometimes we have a cry fest when I go to far.

the pronouncation of /n/ and other letters, I can’t call to mind at this moment.

[quote=“Namahottie”]the pronouncation of /n/ and other letters, I can’t call to mind at this moment.[/quote] S is a major problem as a final consonant. Th is difficult for young students regardless of nationality or native language. Z is a problem as an initial consonant.

I think what Namahottie means is that students often mispronounce the letter “N” when they spell a word or recite the alphabet. I’ve tried and tried for three years to no avail. “N” seems to be here to stay because I suspect local English teachers pronounce it that way. I think it’s a way of differentiating between “M” and “N”.

Especially among students below the age of eight because of missing front teeth.

I think what Namahottie means is that students often mispronounce the letter “N” when they spell a word or recite the alphabet. I’ve tried and tried for three years to no avail. “N” seems to be here to stay because I suspect local English teachers pronounce it that way. I think it’s a way of differentiating between “M” and “N”.[/quote]

It’s not the differentiating of /m/ and /n/ that bugs me but how past students have said /n/ -like /un/ but you are right about the effect of the local English teachers. So, I’ve thrown the towel in on that one, and just work with it. I still correct them but I know that they will probably be more affected by the local influence.

The eleven most common grammatical errors for the Chinese are:

Sentence structure
Agreement
Verd tense
Passive
Gerunds
Prepositions
Nouns: count vs non-count
Articles
Noun Clauses
Adjective Clauses
Parallelism

I’m so going to start using this one.

It’s called an accent.

It’s called an accent.[/quote]

No distinct accent seems to exist for Chinese in Taiwan as is the case in Singapore IMHO because English is hardly spoken as a second language here.

The names of certain letters (which are pronounced in the first tone except where noted):

C: xi
F: efu
G: ju (Why? Chinese has the syllable “ji” :noway: )
H: eiqi
J: zei
L: elo (3rd tone)
N: Hanyu Pinyin “en” (like “un”)
R: a (3rd tone)
S: esi
V: bvwi
W: dabuliu
X: ekesi
Z: Taiwanese Church Romanization “ji” (like French “gi”)

I’ll add pronunciation of the long “A” when followed by a consonant. They can say “pay” and “tray” but not “pain” or “train”. This one is a real devil to get at because you’re dealing with deep-rooted interference from Mandarin phonotactics.

On the issue with the pronunciation of letters, I find that spelling things as they say them helps them recognize the problems. C-H-I-C-K-E-UN. Or maybe C-HE-I-C-K-E-UN.

And I bought an orange white board marker just so I can write a big “G” on the board for mispronunciations of “orange”.