Wednesday, January 28, 2009



Let me ,at the outset, make clear my aim in publishing my views on English language teachingIt is a fact that the time, money and effort involved in the teaching of English often do not match the results achieved.The learners spend several years trying to learn to write and speak English.,but their labours are seldom rewarded.There is something basically wrong with the teaching methods ,an unwillingness to confront realities!The new insights from researches in the realms of culture studies and linguistics are not fully grasped and judiciously applied in class-rooms.My purpose is to explain the causes of this failure and suggest remedies.

In today's post I wish to discuss the tricky word be.There seems to be no end to the trouble that this verb gives to ESL learners.The use of be is the most frequent source of error committed by ESLlearners.Be has the maximum number of inflected forms for an English verb.It has the distinction of being the only verb with two separate forms in past tense, one for singular and another for plural.Though it is called a stative verb ,it is sometimes used as a dynamic verb It performs two functions, auxiliary and lexical.
It is intriguing that omission of be is the most common error committed by ESL learners across the cultural spectrum.The English have an obsession with be which is not shared by other peoples.Omission of be is seldom noticed by ESL learners.They think that a sentence would be OK without it!.Be is often omitted in African American English,too.It is omitted in aboriginal Englih of Australia.One explanation for this is that be connotes passivity and people who prefer active life have no use for it.!
French people do not share Englishmen's fondness for be.In their language have takes the place of be. in most situations.As a resulr, French learners of English use have in the place of be:"I have 18" (J'ai 18 ans) instead of ""I am 18."Why do the French prefer have to be? I think the answer lies in the morphology of the different inflected forms of be and have in the French language.The inflected forms of have are so easy to pronounce ,particularly for the most commonly used first person pronoun, je .. Take the inflected forms of be in English .They are so easy to pronounce, when compared to have The influence of culture on language sometimes works in the reverse direction., that is, language influences culture! Malayalam-speaking ESLlearners of Kerala prefer have+ noun to be+adjective I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

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