Do you have these common problems?


In this article we have feedback from the people who have the most experience of dealing with problems in English… The teachers!

These English teachers were asked what the common mistakes are that they see with a wide range of their students. The aim is to see if there are any common patterns so you can avoid these yourself!

‘ED’ Endings! Did you know there are actually three ways to pronounce ‘ED’ Endings !?!?

In English regular verbs in the past simple end in ‘ed’,for example, ‘kiss-kissed’ and ‘wash-.washed’. But these ‘ed’ endings are actually pronounced three different ways ‘id’,’t’ or ‘d’.

Here are the rules:
Verbs that end with a strong syllable sound like ‘t’ or ‘d’ in their infinitive form take the ‘id’ sound. For example, ‘fit- fitT-id’ and ‘need – neeD-id’.

Verbs that contain the letters ‘p,k,f,gh,ch,sh,ss,c,x in their last syllable in their infinitive forms take the ‘t’ sound i.e. ‘cough – cough-T’ and ‘couch – couch-T’.

Verbs that end have the letters ‘l,n,r,g.v,s,z,b or m’ in their last syllable in the infinitive form take the ‘d’ sound. Examples include ‘blame – blameD’ or ‘love – loveD’.

Woodward School info-graphic (summarized by Sam Hutchison)

Listening for specific information when watching a video (or listening to an audio clip) is a common difficulty that many language learners have. To help with this issue, students should be encouraged to listen the same clip multiple times.

First, before watching, they should be given some background information about the topic of the video. Next, they can watch the video and listen for general understanding without having to decode everything. Getting the general gist is essential before listening for the finer details. Then, once they have a strong grasp of what the video is about, they should listen again and take notes of anything that is troublesome or confusing.

If completing the listening task in class, the teacher can give the students feedback on their notes and help with specific vocabulary or expressions from the video that are unclear. Students should replay the clip again and again (while taking notes) until they have a better understanding of the specific details. Lastly, turning on English subtitles can also be very helpful for clarifying difficult foreign accents and fast dialogue.

Paul – ESL Expat

Advanced speakers sometimes dropping a, an and the, and the ‘s’s on plurals seems to be quite common, doesn’t seem to matter what the person’s native language is.

Tom Farebrother

One problem kids have when learning English, is the lack of support outside of the classroom

Most kids who learn English, at least in some countries like South Korea, only hear and speak English in the classroom. Many parents do little to help their child(ren) to continue their learning at home, stagnating the L2 learning. 

The lack of support at home, and the total reliance on the teacher does not allow for true L2 learning. 
Some students may be able to speak, read, write, and understand the basics or even a little more, but it’s difficult beyond that. 
So, to summarize, I think there needs to be greater support and encouragement for using English at home as well as in the classroom. 

Ketan Hein 

Consonant clusters! This one is a big one for me especially with students from Asian countries. This one is difficult because it’s less of a mental problem and more of a physical one. You are now trying to move your mouth in a way that it isn’t used to and it doesn’t like that!

I always recommend breaking the sound up. For example a word like “text” could be “te” “k” “s” “t”. Once you have the separate sounds, try saying them slowly. After this, gradually reduce the gap between each sound until you can pronounce it at full speed.

Jonathan – English +XP

So there we have it, a quick round up of some common problems that teachers see pop up with their students. See if you have any of these problems and if so, work on them until they are gone.

If you are a teacher and you have your own insights you would like to share then get in touch and you are more than welcome!

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