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The Most Common Errors Made By ESOL Learners

By Yann, published on 14/02/2019 We Love Prof > Languages > ESOL (English) > The Top Frequent Errors To Avoid In English!

If you have jumped on to the English language learner path, then you will be presently studying English. Maybe you have signed up to an English as a Second Language (ESOL) course, attend a foreign language program for language development, join other English language learners in a classroom with a school teacher or study the English Language with a private tutor.

Today there is more second language English speakers than there are first language English speakers. As the language has risen into global status, it is used in the business industry, the travel industry, and the social media communities online.

For students, English language development is not just a hobby. But it gives the learner the qualifications to apply for a better job. It allows the non native English international student interested in enrolling in an international school, access to some of the best universities in the world. It also provides multilingual and multicultural opportunities which prepare students for cross cultural interaction so prevalent today in our more accessible world.

For teachers, the popularity of English has created an array of teaching opportunities which allows school teacher to teach English language learners and foreign students. There are many ESL programs that the English language teacher can apply to work with. This becomes a lot easier when you have had some teacher training or have completed a Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate program. While teachers are required to have native level English skills but if you are bilingual or demonstrate exception fluency, you will still be considered.

Mistakes are a part of life Take a look common mistakes made by English language learners. Photo Source: Unsplash

Like all languages, English language learning takes dedication, practice and focus. Why ever you learn English, Your English classes are central to your success and language proficiency. While English may seem like an easy language to learn at times. It does have many inconsistencies which come from its adoption of words from many languages and cultures.

When you are in your ESOL English language program focusing on how to learn English. It could be beneficial for you to be aware of the typical mistakes that tend to be made by other students who are studying ESL English as well. This will help you to learn to avoid the same errors quickly. You can ask your language teacher for some tips about where to focus your attention.

Comprehension of the English language, including speaking skills, listening skills, pronunciation and reading and writing, is the key to going from limited English to English proficiency. English teaching strategies that not only focus on increasing your knowledge but also decreasing weakness take you 1 step closer to being bilingual.

Whether you are a novice in the English language, an experienced learner or a teacher of English, a language cannot be mastered perfectly unless you dedicate yourself to a diverse education program and teaching techniques. While mistakes are normal when you have basic skills in a language and even when you are fluent. You should always aim to do your best and avoid mistakes, this continuous development will enrich your language skills.

Speaking mistake can be frustrating Verbs are the structure of the English language and are essential to comprehension. Photo Source: Unsplash

A Few Reasons Why Language Students Make Mistakes

  • We get nervous or shy, also fear of making mistakes can lead to making more of them.
  • We mix up two foreign languages,
  • We do not master the grammatical structure and vocabulary of English
  • We don’t learn how to conjugate verbs correctly
  • Lack of practice or lack of interest
  • We do not understand English rules for pronunciation

Learning a foreign language takes true dedication as you are effectively reprogramming your brain to be able to communicate in a new way. The foundation for your success is focus, dedication and determination to the task.

How You Should Feel About Making Mistakes In English

Mistakes are a part of life, although we seem to hate that we make them. The reality is that through the errors that we make in our lives, we are able to learn and grow stronger. Whenever we learn anything new, we are likely to make some small or large mistakes. But it is not important how many mistakes you make. What is important is your attitude to those mistakes.

Attitude is vital because mistakes really are only feedback to tell you to try again. If instead of trying again just feel ashamed and never try any more then you would have really failed yourself. The benefit of errors in language or in life is that you can take note, learn and try again.

To do well with learning new languages, you have to be willing to be ok with making mistakes. Put your pride to the side and just have fun with the language and each time you find the wrong way to say something is another way that you have learned the right way to say something. With this progressive and mature attitude, you will find yourself wishing for more errors as each one will bring you closer to fluency. Be humble and understand that no one is perfect including you, so you are going to make some mistakes, have fun with your language development. Let’s take a look common mistakes made by English language learners.

Irregular Verbs Mistakes.

Whether you are learning or have learnt your verbs in college, via tutoring programs, or a business English intensive course.  Verbs are the structure of the English language and are essential to comprehension, and they allow you to build strong sentences.

Grammar, conjugation and vocabulary all come together to make the perfect sentence. Because of all of these things to pay attention to, it can be easy to make an error. Especially when you consider that there are hundreds of verbs with thousands of conjugations. It can be hard to hold all of that in mind no matter talented you are. Some examples of easy irregular verb mistakes to make could be:

  • Was/Were, Been (To be),
  • Awake / Awoke / Awoken (To wake),
  • Become / Became / Become (To be),
  • Blow / Blew / Blown (To Blow),
  • Breed / Bred / Bred, (To Breed)
  • Cast / Cast / Cast (Cast / Distribute (To cast).

The problem with Irregular verbs is that they must be learnt 1 by 1 you can not use a rule to work out what the right verb is as you can with regular verbs. This is off-putting when you find out that there are 200+ irregular verbs and of course it is time-consuming. But if you learn a new verb every day for a year, you will overcome this challenge. In short, there are so many irregular verbs that must be mastered before we can avoid making a mistake in those verbs. Everything tells us that irregular verbs are useful to start to practice to avoid making mistakes.

Academic English is very formal Never use abbreviations for casual texting speak in formal or academic writing. Photo Source: Unsplash

Grammar Mistakes.

Grammar is also essential, and I feel that this is also very important for your writing.

  1. It’s or Its –
    1. It’s with an apostrophe is a contraction of ‘It is’,
    2. Its however is how your express possession as in ‘its mine’.
  2. Watch vs Look vs See –
    1. Watch is used to look at something moving
    2. Look is used to look at something directly
    3. See is used to see something that you weren’t looking for, but it came into your sight.

Speaking Mistakes

Speaking mistakes can be frustrating, but you should know that generally if you have given the right context, you will still be understood. You should, however, listen carefully to how people reply to you to get some clues about the correct structure for your sentences.

  1. Future tense –
    1. The future tense can only be used to talk about the future. Therefore you may not say I will go shopping yesterday.
  2. Loan or borrow –
    1. Loan is used to say that you are temporarily giving something
    2. Borrow is used to say that you would like to take something temporarily
  3. Casual or formal English –
    1. Casual English is best saved for friends and family, g. Hey you! How is it going?
    2. Formal English should be used to show respect and good etiquette, g. Hello Sir, it is nice to meet you.

Writing Mistakes.

Written mistakes may not be too much of an issue if you don’t have to write often. But it is still something to improve and be proud of.

  1. Academic English or Casual English
    1. Never use abbreviations for casual texting speak in formal or academic writing.
  2. Capitals –
    1. Names or people places and sometimes things should always be capitalised
    2. The Pronoun of I should always be capitalised
    3. The first letter of your sentence should be capitalized.

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or Advanced in English, the English language is full of little things that must be mastered to progress at your best. The English language has its faults, but the realisation of whether we make mistakes or not is not about the language. It about how much you have studied. It is essential to know how to spend time learning and assimilating the workings of English, to improve bit by bit each day.


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