Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

The resources on this Canadian blog are all free, and I spend a lot of my time working on it, so please consider becoming a SUPPORTER. I appreciate all the support I get. It is the fuel that keeps me going.

Membership is FREE.

NOTE: To leave a comment, click on the word "comment" at the bottom of the page. A comment page will pop up.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Language Usage Problems in ESL Writing

When you write or speak English, it is important to know how to use words that go together. We call this collocation  in English. 

When you use words that are naturally used together, your fluency increases dramatically because  you sound like a native speaker or writer. But when you use unusual word combinations - especially of basic vocabulary - these expressions immediately jump out as WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Not only do they not sound English, they make your writing or speaking sound noticeably unnatural. They also destroy the flow of your writing. 

Although using correct grammar is important when you write, it is just as important to use words that go together because words convey meaning. When used improperly, they cause confusion, or sometimes laughter.  

The best way to learn vocabulary is to learn new words with the words they are usually, or always used with.  This applies to ALL words, especially the ordinary every day words you use all the time. A classic example is to learn the expression "commit a crime" as  one expression, or chunk. If you start out using word combinations incorrectly. you will develop the bad habit of always speaking and wiring them incorrectly.
Whenever you make "expression or vocabulary usage"  mistakes, try to learn from them. Rewrite the correct way of using the words together many times in as many different contexts as possible. Say them out loud as often as you can. That way they are much more likely to stay with you. 

If you are at the advanced level in your English learning, or trying to find a job in an English company or setting, these basic vocabulary errors can  prevent you from moving ahead much more than if you use a comma incorrectly or forget an article or two.  Words - even little words need to be used correctly 

The following English usage errors come from my own students' writing during different terms. I am using them because t hey are very representative of usage errors commonly made by ESL students. 

Starting this week I will regularly post common English usage errors I find in student writing  and the correct English way to use them.  I hope they are useful!

Not English Usage                   Correct English Usage 

Make homework                                         Do homework                         
Do a mistake                                              Make a mistake  
Make a resume                                           Write a resume 
Make my job properly                                 Do my job properly
Make good work                                         Do good work/ do a good job              
It gave me a lesson                                    It taught me a lesson/ I learned a lesson   

 Learn an article                                         Read an article 
Get a good result in school                       Get or obtain good marks 
Get improvement                                        Improve 
It made me hurt                                         It hurt me, it caused me pain 
Pass in front of the line                             Cut in line 
I need to support my living                       I need to support myself, my family  
We get knowledge                                     We acquire knowledge, OR we learn
Learn knowledge                                        Learn    
All my family, all my city                             My whole family. my whole city, BUT all                                                                         my friends                                                                             
To find out more about how to use "make, do, have, get, go to the Vocabulary pages and scroll down for exercises in the collocation section. Read about collocations first.

If you have any comments, or other expressions or word combinations, you want to know about, leave a comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you do not have a web site, or a Google account, click on Name/URL and simply leave your name. You do NOT need to be a member to leave a comment.