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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Grammatical contrastive analysis of English and Chinese basic structures Cheung, Man-Bing Steve


Students learning a foreign language are apt to apply their own linguistic habits to the new language. Actually many problems of foreign language learning arise out of the interference of the learner’s first language habits. Thus modern linguists believe that a given foreign language cannot be successfully taught in an identical way to a group of students with different linguistic backgrounds. While it is true that problems of the learning of a foreign language are various, and that each of them must be attacked with a different technique, the technique of Contrastive Analysis can be universally applied in foreign language teaching. Contrastive analysis of the source language and the target language has been proved fruitful by Professor Robert Lado formerly of the University of Michigan, especially in devising tests and preparing teaching materials. This thesis, which is based upon Professor Lado’s method, is a contrastive analysis of English and Chinese basic syntactical structures, and an attempt to establish a hierachy of difficulty so as to help teachers who teach English as a second language to Chinese students. The work is confined to the syntactical level. Other levels of the formal structure of language such as the phonological level, the morphophonemic level, and the semantic level, are beyond the scope of the purpose of the paper. The analysis is presented in the transformational approach demonstrated by Noam Chomsky in "A Transformational Approach to Syntax". (See Introduction) The thesis is divided into five sections. In each section, except Section 1, descriptions and contrastive analyses of the two languages are made so that conclusions can be reached and problems of Chinese speakers learning English can be predicted. Section 1 is an introduction which explains the use of contrastive analysis, and justifies the adoption of the transformational approach. Section 2 is an illustration, by generating sentences, of the English and Chinese Phrase Structure rules. Section 3 describes the Noun Phrases in both languages. Section 4 is a discussion of the personal pronoun, while Section 5 contains a classification of English and Chinese verbs. It is hoped that this paper will be of some value for teachers who are teaching English to Chinese speakers, and also that it will provide other teachers with some insight into the values of contrastive analysis in foreign language teaching.

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