Reviewed by C J Singh
Typically, the second-language learner's first language tends to impose its grammatical patterns that interfere with learning the second language. This guide admirably elucidates numerous interference patterns in learning English as a Second Language (ESL)specific to twenty-two first languages.
However, as the book is intended for ESL teachers, it skips providing corrected English versions of the interfered sentences -- leaving that to the teacher. A simple way for adapting this teacher's guide for the ESL writer's use is to provide the corrected English version of each interference example. I provide hand-written corrections on the margin of this guide's copy of the relevant chapter and then ask them to revise their manuscript before sending for my editing. (Most of my ESL clients are post-doctoral scholars in fields such as comparative literature, psychology, social sciences, and creative writing.)
The guide comprises twenty-two chapters, each contributed by one or more expert ESL teachers whose first language is usually the same as the learner's. Each chapter is about sixteen pages, beginning with a page or two on phonology, followed by examples of interference patterns in punctuation and grammar. (For Indo-European languages, a list of false friends is added; for example German "bekommen," sounds like English "become," but means "obtain" or "get." Well, of course, tomorrow you will become a book.)
Samples of Dutch Interference Patterns in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 1-20):
In Dutch, adverbs are identical with the uninflected form of the corresponding adjective. The use of unmarked adverbial forms is so deeply rooted in the Dutch speaker's competence that even advanced learners tend to make mistakes like:
*She drives very careful.
Correction to be provided: She drives very carefully.
Dutch has no indefinite article in a subject complement with a countable noun denoting a profession, occupation or status, a religion or a nationality.
*She is professor, Buddhist and Swede. *She's also widow.
Correction to be provided: She is a professor, Buddhist, and Swede. She's also a widow.
Samples of Interference Patterns of Scandinavian Languages in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 21-36).
*The frontdoor is locked and the firealarm is on.
Corrections to be provided: The front door is locked and the fire-alarm is on.
*It/There was shot a man shot here yesterday.
Correction to be provided: A man was shot here yesterday.
*She spoke to me quite polite. ("Scandinavian adverbs of manner tend to be similar in form to adjectives, which lead to frequent mistakes.")
Correction to be provided: She spoke to me quite politely.
*I really must stop to smoke. ("The absence of the gerund in their own language tends to make Scandinavians use the infinitive.")
Correction to be provided: I really must stop smoking.
*The band plays now. (Scandinavian languages have no progressive verb forms.)
Correction to be provided: The band is playing now.
Samples of German Interference Patterns in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 40-41):
*I think, that there has been a mistake.
*She knew exactly, what he meant.
*She was very anxious, to get there as early as possible.
Corrections to be provided: No comma needed in the above three sentences.
The auxiliary "do" has no equivalent in German; interrogatives are made by simple inversion. *When started you to play the piano?
Correction to be provided: When did you start playing the piano?
Samples of French Interference Patterns in grammar from the Guide (pages 58-59):
Negatives in French are formed by putting "ne . . . pas" around a one-word verb, or around the auxiliary of a longer verb. This tends to incorrect placement of "not" as follows.
*I have not said nothing.
Correction to be provided: I have said nothing.
French has no present progressive form. This tends to incorrect sentences such as:
Julie can't come to the phone now. *She has/takes a bath.
Correction to be provided: Julie . . . now. She is taking a bath.
Samples of Spanish and Catalan Interference Patterns in grammar from the Guide (pages 98-99): Word order is much freer than in English. This allows words that are emphasized to be placed last and tend to result in incorrect English sentences such as:
*Yesterday played very well the children.
Correction to be provided: Yesterday, the children played very well.
Object complements are regularly placed before a direct object resulting in a pattern such as:
*They took to the hospital her mother.
Correction to be provided: They took her (their) mother to the hospital.
Samples of Hindi Interference Patterns in punctuation and grammar from the Guide (pages 227-243).
Besides a simple past tense, Hindi also distinguishes the past habitual, past progressive and past perfect, though usage is not completely identical in Hindi and English. With the small group of common stative verbs including 'believe, hear, know, understand, want, which are rarely used in progressive forms, the English past progressive may be used inappropriately by analogy with the Hindi past habitual, formed with the present participle and past auxiliary:
*We were wanting to go to England.
Correction to be provided: We wanted to go to England.
Hindi does not make the same distinctions between intensifying adverbs as are drawn by the English 'more, very, and too':
*I like this music too much.
Correction to be provided: I like this music very much.
Here's the sequential list of chapters included in the Guide:
Spanish and Catalan;
Indo-European South Asian Languages (Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, etc.)
Malay and Indonesian;
An excellent compendium for ESL teachers and learners.