In my last blog post I listed a few 'false friends' - English words that students confuse with words from their own language - in this one, I'm going to talk about common mistakes.
Every single day, at least one student will say 'he' when they mean 'she' and vice versa. They also tend to say 'he' when talking about an animal whose gender they do not know. With the latter mistake, I don't think they're being sexist; it's more a case of they just do it automatically as I'm guilty of this at times too - usually when referring to a friend's unborn baby.
I hear this one again and again and, surprisingly enough, not just from lower level students. I do not understand this because when you ask them what the word is in singular, they all know that it's 'child' and that 'childs' isn't the plural form, so why the need to add an 'S'?
Now, whilst I can understand the confusion between 'complicated' and 'complicate', what I fail to understand is how students manage to pronounce it incorrectly when they're seeing it written. My guess is that the 'D' must be invisible.
This is another mistake that confuses me; when students pronounce a word that has an 'S' on the end but do not seem to be able (or want) to pronounce it. Some examples: faces, stations, weeks, glasses, places, houses....you get the picture.
A lot of Spanish words that are similar to English words such as Spain, Sport, School, etc begin with 'ES' in Spanish - Espana, Esport, Escola. So, when Spanish speakers say the equivalent word in English they have a habit of adding an 'E'....Espain, Esport, Eschool. This is understandable but, again, I don't understand it when it is written down and they are reading. The imaginary 'E'.
The letter 'V' is non-existent in the Spanish dictionary. As a consequence any word that contains a 'V' is pronounced with a 'B'.
This is another letter that students have difficulty pronouncing on account of there being no such letter in the Spanish alphabet. As a result, words containing 'Z' are pronounced like a native English speaker would pronounce them if they contained an 'S'.
I love this one, it makes me do a silent laugh. Of course, what they mean is "I am bored". An easy mistake to make but one you hear quite often which, once it's explained, often makes the student laugh too. So, it's all good.
This is a phrase that seems to crop up right before a student answers a question such as, "Can you give me a sentence using the word 'drive'?" They will reply, "For example, I drive to work every day " I think this one is actually more of a habit than a mistake and I have no idea why they all say it. It could be that they're simply mimicking the teacher when the teacher gives an example and says, "For example...."
Erm, I don't think you did unless, of course, you're a hairdresser. Therefore, YOU didn't cut your hair, the hairdresser did. What you mean is "I had my hair cut (by the hairdresser)".
Time and time again a word that is (or rather, should be) pronounced completely differently to the way it's spelled ends up being pronounced exactly how it's spelled, and then, an argument ensues. Take the word 'realise'; you say a sentence containing this word and the student doesn't understand what you're saying, despite them knowing what the word is. And the reason they don't understand is because you're pronouncing the word properly. Thus, after repeating the word numerous times, the minute you write it down, it dawns on them that the word is 'reh-alih-say-shi-on' and then they proceed to tell you that they didn't understand because YOU pronounced it wrong *sigh*.
This is what teachers are up against on a daily basis. However, don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining....far from it...it's these little idiosyncrasies that make teaching fun and give you that 'feelgood' factor sense of achievement when they finally do get it right. If you want a job that gives you the feelgood factor, why not arrange an interview with Oxbridge TEFL today and you too could be whipping your students into shape in no time.