Undoubtedly, existing languages have got manifold differences and some similarities. The present article deals with basic questions relating to the problem that learners might encounter whiling studying English. Broadly speaking, a learner deals with the following widely-known challenges:
multiword units (like idioms and collocations);
unsolved acronyms and abbreviations;
proper name of people, organizations, and places;
We carried out a research to find out which basic difficulties are peculiar to foreign students who study English as a second language.
Stepan Kortus, Czech Republic
The main problem in translating from Russian into Czech language is their similarity. For a lot of Czech words there exists a similar Russian word with the same meaning, whereas in Russian it has the opposite meaning. Thanks to this, I make mistakes in communication. Often I choose the word, thinking that it is Russian. But in reality it is Czech. Additionally, it does not exist in the Russian language or has a different meaning.
Firstly, the word order between Chinese and English is different. For example, when we mean the phrase “Happy New Year”, the correct way in Chinese is “new year happy”.
Secondly, there so many four-word phrase. They are short, but sometimes they are stories or some mythologies.
Thirdly, a lot of Chinese words have many various meanings, and a lot of English words can be translated into different Chinese words. For example, the word “I” can be translated into Chinese over ten different ways.
Ava Shan, China
There are more and more Chinese people who learn English. However, we don’t have a lot of chances to talk with native speakers, so when we translate or talk, we use the Chinese thinking way, that is chinglish. Here, there are some examples:
Someone will say “I very like ...” rather than “I like … very much”. It is because the order of the former one is the same with the order in Chinese;
Chinese abuse some words, such as delicious. Practically every Chinese will say this word when they feel the food is tasty. Actually, I know from native speakers, they don’t use this word very often, but in China, we use this word pretty often;
We can’t translate very natively. For instance, we will say “yellow hair” to describe one’s hair, but in the USA, they just use “blond”. This way there might be a lot of problems concerning translation.
Melissa Feijo, Brazil
1) You will always find words that sound the same in your first language, but have a completely different meaning. For example, if we take English and Portuguese words:
college means the university. In Portuguese, it means “high school”;
educated in English means someone with a lot of knowledge, who has a lot of theoretical skills. In Portuguese it means polite;
injury in English means to get hurt, in Portuguese means to get offended;
mayor in English means the person who is politically responsible for the city. In Portuguese it means bigger.
2) For example, in Portuguese, we always put the adjective after the noun and in English it comes before. For example, “The pretty girl”, in Portuguese it would be “The girl pretty”. It can be very confusing for Brazilians.
3) Some expressions are almost impossible to translate. Each language has some slang that is very hard to explain to a foreign person. Like “to pass away” in English mean “to die”, in Portuguese it means “to pass by”.
Tiffany Chow, Singapore
Not all words can be directly translated into another language because words in some languages do not have the same meaning as words in another language. The meaning of words, phrases and sentences is sometimes dependent on cultural or social context which a speaker of another language might not be culturally aware of. Like in English it’s “Hello” but in Russian it’s “Zdravstvuyte” and “Privet”. So when shall we use these words? Besides “Zdravstvuyte” also has a literal meaning of “be healthy”. Sometimes there is also the problem of translating words to words which are outdated in a language. The same occurs for slang language like “What’s up?” which is more of an English expression.
Naturally when you start studying a foreign language, you have to overcome some difficulties. As my native language is Arab, I would like to share my view relating to studying English.
Firstly, Arabic language is written from right-to-left, opposite that of the English writing system.
Secondly, Arabic language contains 28 letters, 10 of which do not exist in the English language. Arabic does not contain the sounds: P, V, X, Ch, G (except in certain dialects) and are substituted by the Arabic sounds B, F, and KS (the letter K followed by the letter S). In addition, Arabic borrows sounds/letters from the Farsi language which is comprehensible among all Arabs
Thirdly, in Arabic words are written almost the same as you hear them. In English, hearing what you think is spelled “sakses” though correct spelling is “success”.
Fourthly, there exist differences between male and female in pronouns, verbs, words, and sentence structure. Pronouns like “they” and “you” have specifications for male and female, singular and plural. Zeki, Turkey
Studying English I always want to add an ending. In Turkish you add endings one by one to the root of a word to produce the desired meaning.
The Turkish alphabet consists of 29 letters. It lacks the Q, W and X of English, but includes letters with a diacritic, such as З. There are 8 vowels and 21 consonants.
A particular feature of Turkish is vowel harmony. This means that all the vowels in a word have to be of the same general type (vowels produced at the front of the mouth or vowels produced at the back of the mouth). English does not have this feature, and the randomness of vowel sounds in polysyllabic words can be a problem for Turkish speakers. Moreover, I have problems with the (/θ/ /ð/) sounds. For example,
We thoroughly enjoyed the party;
Think twice before refusing the offer;
I feel frozen through and through;
He throve on trade;
Those flowers are marvellous, etc.
Also it is difficult to pronounce words with syllables beginning with the /w/ and /v/ sounds, pronouncing
Well worth the day!
worth of game;
very high-frequency waves
very well, etc.
In addition, it is easy to predict spelling in Turkish as pronunciation coincides with spelling. In the meanwhile, English spelling is different from pronunciation.
When you study English, you notice that intonation in English is quite different from Japanese.
Secondly, word order. For instance, “I love you” – in English, “I You Love” – in Japanese
Thirdly, it’s rather hard to comprehend when and which article should be used. As there are no words in Japanese which are correct equivalents to the English articles “a”, “an” and “the”.
Fourthly, there are no plural forms in Japanese. You have to listen to the context to understand if Japanese means a tree or trees.
Fifthly, there is no future tense in Japanese. The present tense, along with “time words”, is used to indicate future actions. Therefore, it is difficult for a Japanese to understand and learn various forms and tenses in English which are used to indicate a future action.
Thus studying a foreign langue it is wise to take into consideration specific peculiarities of a native language and organize the teaching process the way that it will benefit English learning by foreign learners.