5 Common English Mistakes Young Learners Make

5 Common English Mistakes Young Learners Make

If your child has been learning English for a few years and has developed a good vocabulary, you might find that they’re still making regular mistakes which limit their communication. Here are five common mistakes young learners make, and some suggestions for how to practice these skills.

Confusing Ls and Rs

This pronunciation mistake is particularly common with Chinese students. Asian students can also confuse Vs and Ws. While the context of the word often makes the meaning clear, sometimes it does not. It is also a habit most parents would prefer their child to avoid so that they can speak clear English.One way to correct pronunciation mistakes is by repeating tongue twisters. Tongue twisters can be a fun practice activity because even advanced speakers make mistakes, and because the words are often silly and funny. You can find some tongue twisters here.
https://www.esl4kids.net/tongue.html .It is important to choose tongue twisters with the sounds your child struggles with.

For example, a good one for children who confuse Ls and Rs is:
Red lorry, yellow lorry
Red lorry, yellow lorry
Red lorry, yellow lorry
Red lorry, yellow lorry

Forgetting to use articles

Articles are the words we use before a noun – a, an, the, that, these, this and those. Many students forget to use an article before a noun, and will say something like “I have cat.” It is also common for students to be unsure about which article to use. To help students remember to use an article, counting the sentence words on your fingers can be useful. Hold up a finger as you say each word, but say nothing when you hold up the finger for the missed word. When the young learners know they’ve misses a word, they usually take some time to think about it what be. Over time, they realise what the missing word is faster. Over even more time, they remember to say the article in their first attempt at speaking. An alternative to this is clapping for each word in the sentence. Young learners often enjoy this more. 

Forgetting to use words like to and with

Words like to and with can be difficult and are often a barrier to forming more complex sentences. The challenge with these words is that they can’t be acted out or shown easily with a picture. So students will often say “I will go shop” or be confused by the question “who will you go with?”A fun way to increase familiarity with these words is talking about pictures. Those pictures can be in the book the child is reading, work by their favourite artist or their own artwork. 

Confusing no and not.

Another common mistake is using “no” instead of “not”. This is an easy trap for students to fall into because this mistake probably won’t be corrected the first several times the child makes it. During the early classes teachers tend to prioritise pronunciation, vocabulary and confidence, so if the student says “I like red, no yellow” or “I no can swim” most teachers will simply repeat the sentence correctly, answer what the child was trying to say and then move on with the class. So often this mistake is simply a bad habit and the student will quickly learn what they should say after a few lessons on the topic.It is also common for students to correct this mistake themselves. Many children learn the correct word to use just from hearing their teacher or parents use it. Children who read a lot of English books can also learn which word to use from what they’re reading. But for children who need more help, a variation on the game “two truths and a lie” can be fun. Write two correct sentences and one incorrect sentence, and the student needs to say which sentence is incorrect and why. 

Confusing pronouns

Pronouns can be very difficult because they change frequently and, from a young learners perspective, randomly. It can be difficult for young learners to know whether to use “me”, “I” or “myself.” This can be a problem because often children need to be able to use the correct pronoun before they’re taught the grammar rules that tell them which one to use, so learning by doing is necessary. For young learners, this means playing lots of games. Some fun and effective sentence games include noughts and crosses, or tic tac toe. Draw a grid of nine squares and write a different pronoun in each one. The student then needs to make a correct sentence with one of the pronouns to get that square. Another fun game is “odd one out” where you make a list of a type of pronoun, for example reflexive pronouns, but include one different type of pronoun. For example: myself, themselves, herself, you. Your child needs to identify which one is different. Pronoun snap and pronoun bingo are fun alternatives. The useful thing about these games is that they can be adapted to practice many words and grammar concepts. With a little effective practice, your child will be able to avoid or stop making these common mistakes.
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