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Tips for Teaching English to Asian Students

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If you have a large number of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese students in your English-as-a-second-language classes, you might want to purchase the summer copy of MultiCultural Review (a single copy is $25) or find one in a library. The issue, which isn't free online, contains an article, "Asian ESL Students and Literacy Development," that tells about the learning styles of Asian students and summarizes some differences between several Asian languages and English. It's written by Peter Edwards, a professor of education at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., and Hui-Chin Yang, a professor of education at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The article says "one characteristic of the Asian learning style is a teacher-centered, closure-oriented learning mode, leading Asian students to dislike ambiguity, uncertainty, or fuzziness." I recall how when I was an English teacher in China nearly two decades ago, I had a student who believed he could become fluent in English by learning all of the grammar rules for the language. To be able to connect with my Chinese students and build on what they already knew, I had to learn quite a lot about English grammar.

The comparisons between languages offer insight not commonly discussed in education journals. In the Korean language, disagreement is expressed more directly and forcefully than it is in American English. In Chinese, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs don't have suffixes. The word, "happy," for instance, can be used as several parts of speech without any change, while in English the word changes to "happily" or "happiness."

You teachers have a challenge to explain to students why English is the way it is, and it can't hurt to know where students might be helped or hindered by influences from their native languages. By the way, does anyone have a good explanation for why I need the word "does" in this question? I know from my own teaching experience that it's hard to come up with explanations for some of this stuff on one's feet.

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I'll give a stab at answering the "does" question, although I'm not an English teacher. It seems to me that the use of "anyone" becomes a singular noun (any one), substituted for the plural "any of you" (the group). If the sentence were rewritten as the plural, it would read, "Do any of you have a good explanantion...?" This is probably not an adequate explanation, but it helped me understand it.

Does is used in question formation and in negation (combining with not). Clearly this sentence is a question.

You will find that does is used in the present tense and did in the past. These are the only true tenses in English.

As the previous reader pointed out, does takes the third person.

BTW, I'm an English teacher in China. My feeling is that the Chinese language learning style is quickly changing especially in the big cities under "assult" from technology assisted language learning.Knowing grammar alone won't cut it in the future.

A good course in Applied Linguistics should help and if no time for that I frequently used The Grammar Book by Marianne Celce-Murcia's which is meant for professionals not for students.

"Someone" and "anyone" can both be used in question formation and as third person singular. "Any" is always combined with singular nouns..."Any cup is fine..."
"Any day works for me." "Any color looks good on her"

A good course in Applied Linguistics should help and if no time for that I frequently used The Grammar Book by Marianne Celce-Murcia's which is meant for professionals not for students.

"Someone" and "anyone" can both be used in question formation and as third person singular. "Any" is always combined with singular nouns..."Any cup is fine..."
"Any day works for me." "Any color looks good on her"

I am an English teacher in Viet Nam and it is very frustrating to attempt explanation of certain English language oddities.. like why is "tomb" pronounced differently from "bomb". Some things we just cannot explain and must base on memorization.

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