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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2003
If you are on a CELTA course or similar EFL course, then this is a very useful book. It runs through the various interference problems you might encounter when teaching students of various L1 backgrounds. It methodically runs through the various english vowel and consonant pronunciation issues each learner might have, and extends its analysis into all areas of grammar, stress, intonation, vocabulary and culture. Even if you're not on a course and you have a multi-L1 class, then this acts as a reference guide for helping you to profile students and understand their potential learning difficulties with
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2009
I originally borrowed this book for a library to assist me with an essay for my ESOL course. Its contents are a revelation - hence the purchase. Now qualified, I need this book to hand all the time. If you are thinking of teaching English as a foreign language, then you will need this book.
It works its way through most language types and identifies the potential stumbling blocks that each mother tongue will have as the speaker learns English. It looks in detail at the differences in language construction between the students mother tongue and English. When you realise that some languages do not have the same pronunciation sounds as English or a language does not have pronouns or articles, it all becomes clear as to why the same mistakes litter the new students work.
Learner English is set out in way that makes a revision of those issues prior to taking a class easy and it also is a handy reference for identifying individual issues. Each issue is clearly set out in an unambiguous form.
I thoroughly recommend this text.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2002
The book is split into various native language sections. Within each of these there is an analysis of that language form and how it differs from English. Various difficulties peculiar to each language are then given in reference to learning English. An invaluable guide especially when teaching students where the teacher has no knowledge of their mother tongue.
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on 17 September 2015
Reviewed by C J Singh

Typically, the second-language learner's first language tends to impose its grammatical patterns that interfere with learning the second language. This guide admirably elucidates numerous interference patterns in learning English as a Second Language (ESL)specific to twenty-two first languages.

However, as the book is intended for ESL teachers, it skips providing corrected English versions of the interfered sentences -- leaving that to the teacher. A simple way for adapting this teacher's guide for the ESL writer's use is to provide the corrected English version of each interference example. I provide hand-written corrections on the margin of this guide's copy of the relevant chapter and then ask them to revise their manuscript before sending for my editing. (Most of my ESL clients are post-doctoral scholars in fields such as comparative literature, psychology, social sciences, and creative writing.)

The guide comprises twenty-two chapters, each contributed by one or more expert ESL teachers whose first language is usually the same as the learner's. Each chapter is about sixteen pages, beginning with a page or two on phonology, followed by examples of interference patterns in punctuation and grammar. (For Indo-European languages, a list of false friends is added; for example German "bekommen," sounds like English "become," but means "obtain" or "get." Well, of course, tomorrow you will become a book.)

Samples of Dutch Interference Patterns in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 1-20):
In Dutch, adverbs are identical with the uninflected form of the corresponding adjective. The use of unmarked adverbial forms is so deeply rooted in the Dutch speaker's competence that even advanced learners tend to make mistakes like:
*She drives very careful.
Correction to be provided: She drives very carefully.
Dutch has no indefinite article in a subject complement with a countable noun denoting a profession, occupation or status, a religion or a nationality.
*She is professor, Buddhist and Swede. *She's also widow.
Correction to be provided: She is a professor, Buddhist, and Swede. She's also a widow.


Samples of Interference Patterns of Scandinavian Languages in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 21-36).
*The frontdoor is locked and the firealarm is on.
Corrections to be provided: The front door is locked and the fire-alarm is on.
*It/There was shot a man shot here yesterday.
Correction to be provided: A man was shot here yesterday.
*She spoke to me quite polite. ("Scandinavian adverbs of manner tend to be similar in form to adjectives, which lead to frequent mistakes.")
Correction to be provided: She spoke to me quite politely.
*I really must stop to smoke. ("The absence of the gerund in their own language tends to make Scandinavians use the infinitive.")
Correction to be provided: I really must stop smoking.
*The band plays now. (Scandinavian languages have no progressive verb forms.)
Correction to be provided: The band is playing now.


Samples of German Interference Patterns in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 40-41):
*I think, that there has been a mistake.
*She knew exactly, what he meant.
*She was very anxious, to get there as early as possible.
Corrections to be provided: No comma needed in the above three sentences.
The auxiliary "do" has no equivalent in German; interrogatives are made by simple inversion. *When started you to play the piano?
Correction to be provided: When did you start playing the piano?


Samples of French Interference Patterns in grammar from the Guide (pages 58-59):
Negatives in French are formed by putting "ne . . . pas" around a one-word verb, or around the auxiliary of a longer verb. This tends to incorrect placement of "not" as follows.
*I have not said nothing.
Correction to be provided: I have said nothing.
French has no present progressive form. This tends to incorrect sentences such as:
Julie can't come to the phone now. *She has/takes a bath.
Correction to be provided: Julie . . . now. She is taking a bath.

Samples of Spanish and Catalan Interference Patterns in grammar from the Guide (pages 98-99): Word order is much freer than in English. This allows words that are emphasized to be placed last and tend to result in incorrect English sentences such as:
*Yesterday played very well the children.
Correction to be provided: Yesterday, the children played very well.
Object complements are regularly placed before a direct object resulting in a pattern such as:
*They took to the hospital her mother.
Correction to be provided: They took her (their) mother to the hospital.

Samples of Hindi Interference Patterns in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 227-243).
Besides a simple past tense, Hindi also distinguishes the past habitual, past progressive and past perfect, though usage is not completely identical in Hindi and English. With the small group of common stative verbs including 'believe, hear, know, understand, want, which are rarely used in progressive forms, the English past progressive may be used inappropriately by analogy with the Hindi past habitual, formed with the present participle and past auxiliary:
*We were wanting to go to England.
Correction to be provided: We wanted to go to England.
Hindi does not make the same distinctions between intensifying adverbs as are drawn by the English 'more, very, and too':
*I like this music too much.
Correction to be provided: I like this music very much.

Here's the sequential list of chapters included in the Guide:
Scandinavian Languages;
Spanish and Catalan;
Indo-European South Asian Languages (Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, etc.)
West African;
Malay and Indonesian;

An excellent compendium for ESL teachers and learners.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2009
This book explains all the key differences that learners of English as a second/foreign language experience as a result of differences within their own mother tongue - from pronunciation and intonation to grammatical differences, and false friends. Each chapter is comprehensive yet reasonably succinct. The book covers the full range of European languages as well as the main languages of Africa, Asia and the Far East. A book to dip into as necessary as difficulties arise for individual learners rather than a book to read from cover to cover, but a useful addition to any ELT practitioner's book collection.
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on 17 February 2013
Excellent book for both the CELTA and DELTA. It explains the difficulties of language learners broken down by countries / languages spoken citing specific items of phonology and syntax based on their primary language. This resource is a "MUST HAVE" whenever writing the lengthy DELTA LSA papers, DTA, Experimental Assignment and the Specialism (Modules 2 and 3). I
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2013
This audio CD is a good item to have to hand for those teachers who wish to find out why certain nationalities make certain mistakes when learning English, and also if they have no time at all to read the hard printed copy. The accoustics are good and the actual characters are real people with real interaction patterns, from real countries around the world. So nothing is fake or pre-recorded.
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on 7 August 2013
....possibly getting dated now. Some more recent research on L1 impact on English learning also needs to be taken into conservation. However, this book is good for people taking a CELTA or Trinity and for introducing what can be expected from different L1 speakers from around the world.
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on 22 January 2013
I bought this when I was studying for ADTLLS in ESOL - this was recommended by another ESOL professional, It was fascinating reading and I found the exact information I needed for my case study on an ESOL learner.
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on 19 October 2014
Very helpful book when teaching English to foreigners. It helps you to understand their specific difficulties in dealing with the English language - based on how they speak their own language.
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