The problems of learning English as a second language by Liangmais

CH Widinibou *

English is the second language for the people, of Liangmai as it is the native language of England and American. The Government-run schools impart education through local vernaculars, private schools prefer English and the general tendency of the people is to get their children admitted to English medium schools.

On the other hand, higher education such as given in the colleges, universities and specialised education, ie engineering and technology, science, etc is given in English. English has become the most important international language and is the most commonly taught second or foreign language in the world. Liangmai people came to contact with English language as it is compulsory subject in the school level.

Linguisticatly, Liangmai and English language differ from each other. The difference in English and Liangmai can be seen in subject matter relating to phonology, morphology and syntax. Today, I would like to highlight the difference in linguistic field and the problem faced by the Liangmai students in learning English as second language based on phonology, morphology and syntax.

The error committed by the Liangmai students while learning English as a second language shows such enormous mutual differences. The error provides insight in the field of language teaching. language learning and teaching involves error as no learner can learn the correct form of the language overnight.

The learner has to be taught about the aspect of the language and to produce whatever has been taught or to conduct similar pattern of language. The learner may not learn everything that has been taught or tend to over generalise. The students while learning English as second language, they commit certain errors due to mother tongue interference. The common errors which can be perceived are:-

1. Phonology

Liangmai language has its own phonological features which are distinct from English phonology.
Examples I
(a) /f/ is a voiceless labiodental fricative in English but is absence in liangmai. When the consonant /f/ occurs they substitute it by /ph/ which is voiceless aspirated bilabial plosive.
English - Liangmai
Fish - phis
Fast - phas
Father - phader
Liangmai speakers tend to say the above words by using /ph/ which is voice bilabial plosive in Liangmai.

(b) /v/ is a voiced labiodental fricative in English but /v/ is absent in Liangmai. When the consonant/vi occurs it is substitute by /b/ which is voiced bilabial plosive in Liangmai.
English - Liangmai
Vehicle - bihikal
Van - ban
Volley - boli
Liangmai speakers while speak English they tend to say above the words by using /b/ which is voiced bilabial plosive instead of using /v/.

(c) Lexical problems:
(i) Ship cheap
Same shame
The problem that can be seen unable to distinguish between /s/ and Its /
(ii) To too
The problem that can be seen unable to distinguish between /u/ and /u:/
(Hi) Sit seat
The problem that can be seen unable to distinguish between /i! and /i:/

2. Morphology:

Reduplication: it is done to emphasize the effect where words are repeated but in English it is rarely practiced.

(i) Liangmai - koi koi tad lo
slowly slowly go com
'Go slowly'
(ii) Liangmai
sou sou wang lo who who come Q marker
Who corries?
The Liangmai speakers while they speak English they tend to imitate the Ll pattern

3. Syntax

Liangmai language belongs to the Tibeto Burman language family and has the following order of its constituent subject, object and verb (SOV). While English language its constituent is subject, verb and object (SVO).The problems that are likely to arise are on the sentence construction as they tend to imitate Ll pattern.

Liangmai-(i) i chakuang dung khiu mine. i plate plural wash past asp M
'I washed the plates'
Liangmai speakers while speak English they tend to omit led' past tense marker and plural IS'

(ii) Liangmai­ john wang-Io
john come com
John come!
The liangmai speakers while they speak English they tend to used by adding Ina'.
i.e. john come na.

(iii) Apiu
mitiang tad mide
My father meeting go asp M
'My father went for meeting'
Liangmai speakers while speak English. Tthey tend to the above sentence by using mitiang.
i.e. my father went for mitiang.

(iv) Apiu
prichiang tad mine
My father
preaching go past asp
'my father went for preaching'
Liangmai speakers while speak English they tend to the above sentence by using prichiang.
i.e. my father went for prichiang.

(v) Liangmai- rapiu tu thon lo !
Lord accu praise com
'Praise the lord'
Liangmai speakers tend to the above sentence by using 'parese ta 10' instead of praise the Lord.
i.e. parese ta lo.

* CH Widinibou wrote this article for The Sangai Express. This article was webcasted on January 21st, 2010.

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