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The Most Common Challenges For Chinese Learners of English

The Most Common Challenges For Chinese Learners of English | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I am a lifelong ESL student myself. Every day I am learning something new from the books, from the things around me, and my students. For the last few years, I've been teaching the English language here in China, which is why I chose this topic. China is a great country with beautiful sceneries and very hard-working, enthusiastic, and friendly people. Learning any language is not an easy job. It requires patience, practice, and of course, a desire.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Buned S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Chinese Students' Strongest vs. Weakest Abilities

Chinese students are swift at learning mathematics, science and quick at mastering their native Chinese language. Although it is considered one of the most challenging languages globally, they get significantly slow and emotionally disappointed when it comes to learning the English language. Sometimes it is hard to see them trying so hard and still not getting good results. I was trying to find the reasons and answers by questioning the students about why it so difficult for them to learn the English language. The responses were very different, but the most common ones I will try to share.The first reason was that the English language's grammar is very complicated and difficult to understand, especially the "exceptions" when a particular word or sentence structure doesn't follow the standard grammatical rules. The "tenses" are another big headache for the students. The Chinese language doesn't have tenses. It has words that show the past, the present, and the future, but the sentence structure doesn't change because of that. The phrasal verbs and idioms are also complicated for Chinese students because they prefer the word to word translation.


The other problem that the majority of Chinese students face is the pronunciation of the sounds. There are many sounds that the students have never used before in their native language. For example, the sound "e" in the word "hello," the students usually pronounce it as "hallo" because they have the sound "ha" in their native language. For the same reason, most Chinese students feel hard to pronounce the "th- as in THIS" and "the- as in THINK" sounds.

The one thing that Chinese students are good at is spelling the vocabulary; they have to memorize the words, primarily because of their school's homework or college entrance examinations.


All of these reasons are leading some students to disappointments, and they quickly give up on learning.Yes! It is hard to learn a new language, especially when that language has nothing in common with the native language. Chinese and English languages have nothing in common, making the learning process longer and full of hardships, but the students are trying their best to improve their language learning skills. Nothing is impossible for a willing heart. With proper help from a teacher who has the experience, anybody can learn anything.

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In Chinese schools, the students and the teachers should pay a bit more attention to practicing to speak the language, not only how to read and write the language. Allowing the students to talk about the language at an early age will lead to remarkable improvements.

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