Chinese Learners and English Plural Forms

Posting by Ade Tuty Anggriany | 11:56 AM

Liu Jing, Evie Tindall and Deanna Nisbet

Regent University, Virginia, U.S.A

In “Chinese Learners and English Plural Forms”, Liu Jing, Evie Tindall and Deanna Nisbet explore the challenges that Chinese students encounter in the formation of English plurals. Thus, they (a) examine linguistic features of Chinese and English that may affect plural formation in English, (b) highlight specific areas of challenge for Chinese learners, and (c) present an array of recommended instructional practices.

Liu Jing, Evie Tindall and Deanna Nisbe said that there two aspects of the Chinese language that are pertinent to the formation of English plurals, they are the ideographic writing system and the morphological and syntactic structure of the language. These aspects are markedly different from those of English. There are also some areas of challenge for Chinese learners, they are omission of the morpheme -s/-es, over-generalization of rules and count and non-count nouns. Regarding to these problems, many Chinese learners encounter challenges in regard to the formation of English plurals. Knowing this, teachers can anticipate difficulties and support students’ learning of English plural forms through various instructional practices such as teach key differences in forming plurals between Chinese and English; teach English rules for plural formation; teach the commonalities and the distinct differences between Chinese and English regarding count and non-count noun; teach students language learning strategies with an emphasis on learning vocabulary; and teach students to develop their own resources.

Liu Jing, Evie Tindall and Deanna Nisbe’s findings are supported by (Brown, 2000; Lightbown and Spada, 1999). They said that language transfer, or the incorporation of patterns from the native language into the target language, is a common source of errors among learners of a second or foreign language. They also add that prior knowledge of Chinese language patterns may notably affect their acquisition of English. I also agree with them because as I know that every language has its own rules in spoken or even in written forms. Moreover between Chinese and English, they have their own rules in forming the singular and the plural form of a certain word. As I have learned that English has many rules in word plural formation so that sometimes it is found that it is common for students to make error when they learn plural forms of English. Whereas in Chinese, context is a primary means of addressing the plural form. So that’s right that native language has a great influence in foreign language learning or target language learning.

In short, this article provides an overview of the linguistic features of Chinese and English that may affect formation of English plural forms and pinpoints three major sources of difficulty for many Chinese students. To address these highlighted areas, the authors have recommended a number of instructional practices. The primary focus of these practices is to develop independent language learners. Specifically, for teachers, it is suggested to use the foundational information and the five instructional practices presented in this article to equip Chinese learners to be strategic and resourceful as they address the challenges of English plural forms.

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