Saturday, June 7, 2008

ESL for Chinese speakers


A native speaker of Chinese may face many difficulties when learning ESL as the Chinese language is not closely related to English. In this post , I want to highlight some of the areas that may cause you some difficulties. I will give links to pages that can help you practice these topics.

Many Chinese learners of ESL may have difficulties with the correct use of articles since they do not exist in your own language. The correct use of a, an and the is very important in English and requires plenty of practice. For an excellent resource click here. You will probably benefit from some extra practice with prepositions. Many nationalities find prepositions confusing, as there are many exceptions to the rules. Even at advanced levels of ESL, prepositions can continue to be a problem. For further help with prepositions click here.

English is a stress timed language, with a rhythm and distinct beat that can be quite challenging for Chinese speakers. I strongly recommend that you spend enough time on this area, as it is remarkable how much improvement can be made with the correct use of stress, linking and correct intonation. I wrote an earlier blog detailing some of the things you can do to improve the overall sound and clarity of your voice. Please click here for further details.

There are certain sounds that are difficult for Chinese speakers to produce. Typically this will be the letters l and r. It is very important that you have your tongue placed in the correct position to ensure that the sound comes out correctly. The tongue needs to hit the top of the mouth behind the teeth to correctly sound l. For sounding r the tongue is toward the back of the mouth but should not touch the roof of the mouth. Please click here for tips on how to pronounce l and r correctly.


There may also be problems with the final sound on words. Remember to pronounce all the letters in a word, unless they are silent. Consider the following words : town, towel, tower. We can see that these are different words with different meanings, but often times Chinese speakers will pronounce just the first part of the word. Therefore these three different words sound the same. Pay special attention to this when speaking and you will be amazed at the improvements you will achieve.
Other sounds that may be difficult for you are the differences between ship and sheep. Please click here for further practice on these and other minimal pairs.

English is said to be an idiomatic language. To truly master the language it is a good idea to learn some of the more common idioms that native speakers use in their daily life. In an earlier blog I wrote about the importance of using idioms, please click here for further information. The main thing is to get plenty of opportunities speaking, so that you can practice all these different areas and gain more confidence. I have tutored many Chinese speakers and I make sure we get enough time to work on the sound and clarity of their speech. I am a qualified ESL tutor. If you need private tuition please contact me to discuss your learning needs.
  • email : esltutor7@yahoo.com
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Hi, I am Yushi. I found the website through the internet and we began our lessons.
I am on a business trip to the US. At first ,I felt a little afraid of talking to people in English but after a few lessons, my spoken and listening skills improved very quickly. I can talk to my US colleagues in English now.
Thank you ! (Yushi, China)