Chinese Language Teaching Methodology and Technology

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Tianjin Normal University

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English Abstract

To help Mandarin learners express their ideas in compositions is one of the toughest jobs for teachers of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) who frequently find that their students’ works are rife with inappropriate expressions as well as grammatical errors. Mother tongue transfer, which is an important part of second language acquisition study, has always been used to account for the various problems occurring in second language learners’ study process. This study carries out both quantitative and qualitative analyses on the errors in compositions made by Mandarin learners with English as their mother tongue. Four categories of errors are identified, and the cognitive mechanisms that lead to these errors are studied. The results reveal that the compositions made by Mandarin learners are subject to the influence of the learners’ mother tongue (i.e., English) both in sentence structure and choice of words. The influence can be categorized into two types. First, learners transfer the English grammars (e.g., lexical, semantic, syntactic rules) to Mandarin compositions. Second, due to the linguistic differences between the two languages, learners have difficulty in mastering some Mandarin grammars, thus making various mistakes.

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