English as a Second Language
There are many set rules about how English should be spoken and written, and for someone learning it as a second language, those rules may sometimes be confusing. With persistence and practice though, English can be learnt and used just as effectively when it is ESL as when it is your first language.
Parts of Speech
Different languages use the different parts of speech in different ways.
Parts of speech are the basic elements of language, and are used to build all language forms. In English, the main parts of speech are:
- Nouns – words that name things, people, places, ideas or states of being (hat, dog, beauty, girl);
- Pronouns – words that stand in place of nouns (he, she, it, they, we, you);
- Adjectives – words that modify or tell more about nouns (cool, large, excellent, thin, inefficient)
- Verbs – words that state actions (sit, stand, be, think, do, throw, write);
- Adverbs – words that modify or tell more about verbs (slowly, quietly, soon, tomorrow, later, angrily).
- Prepositions –words that relate to position (about, below, above, inside, like, without, near)
- Conjunctions –words that join parts of a sentence (and, neither-nor, either-or, both, after, when, until)
- Interjections – words that express emotion or get attention (oh, help, goodness, wow, hey, cheers).
Read about these parts of speech in a good grammar book or on the internet.
Read until you feel that you understand the function of each of them.
singular and plural nouns and pronouns
Some nouns that name objects with two parts are always in plural:
scissors pyjamas pants trousers glasses
feet teeth mice men women children geese criterion
In some languages, all nouns are given a gender, and treated differently according to that gender. For instance, in French, maison (house) is masculine, and uses the masculine article, le. Adjectives describing le maison must also be in masculine form: le maison blanc (the white house), or le maison grand (the big house).
In English, a noun is treated as masculine or feminine if the object it names is gendered (with some exceptions). Therefore, girl, woman, mother, aunt, goddess, doe, daughter, mayoress are feminine nouns, while man, boy, son, gander, king are masculine nouns.
Nouns that are not gendered include:
- neutral nouns - All nouns that do not name gendered things or people are neutral. Eg. fish, lamp, house, apple, person, building, country, tree, eyes, idea, approval.
- collective nouns – All nouns that name groups of people or animals and do not specify gender are collective nouns. Eg: people, team, audience, parliament, herd, swarm, group, crowd, class.
Traditionally, some occupations were traditionally gendered in English (actor/actress; mayor/mayoress; policeman/policewoman). Also, most professions were automatically associated with either men or women. Nurses, for instance, were usually women, whereas doctors and soldiers were expected to be men. A woman in a traditionally male profession might be called a woman doctor, or a woman scientist. As more women entered traditionally male occupations, and gender discrimination became less acceptable in many English-speaking countries, language changed accordingly. Sometimes, the gender of a person in an occupation is specified (eg. policewoman, chairwoman)
Now, many occupations are treated as having common gender, representing both males and females (actor, mayor, scientist, writer, author, doctor, driver, soldier, officer, politician, chairperson).
Other common gender nouns are child, infant, person, human, animal, creature, organism, dog, cat etc – all nouns that refer to living things that do not specify their gender.
In English, pronouns in the third person singular (he, she, it) are gendered:
Juan ate my mango; he didn’t even ask me. I told him to eat his own lunch.
She is my favourite aunt, but I think she likes her other nephew more than me. I told her that.
All other pronouns - I, we, you, they, it – are gender neutral.
In English, some neutral nouns are sometimes given feminine gender in common usage, though they are actually neutral nouns. These include boats and ships, aeroplanes, countries, and tools.
Eg:Look at my boat. Isn’t she beautiful?My brother gave me this axe and she’s a beauty!
These uses of the pronoun ‘she’ are not part of the grammar (though ships and nations are traditionally referred to as feminine), but they are part of everyday speech.
Gender and other parts of speech
In English, gender does not affect grammar.Nouns of all gender are treated in the same way. However, gender might affect the adjectives and verbs that one uses to describe males and females. For instance, a woman or girl child might be described as beautiful whereas a man or boy child might be described a handsome or good looking. However, such differences are growing much less important as more emphasis is placed on avoiding sexist language (language that stereotypes male or feminine qualities and behaviours).
A Distance Education Course:
ESL Writing Fundamentals AWR101
This course will develop your ability to use correct English grammar for business and study.
The course is aimed at students who can write and speak good basic English.
Understand how vocabulary is correctly used in different contexts for different purposes
Duration: 100 hrs
- Understand the basic rules of grammar
- Apply rules of grammar to construct correct sentences
- Identify word parts – word roots, prefixes and suffixes
- Use word parts to develop vocabulary
- Name the parts of speech
- Understand basic principles of correct sentence construction
- Understand the nature and purpose of a paragraph
- Identify different kinds of language- formal/informal, direct/indirect
- Identify appropriate language for different writing contexts
- Use correct formats for business writing
- Use correct formats for writing for study
- Improve pronunciation
There are 12 lessons in this module. They are:
1. Parts of speech
-parts of speech, singular & plural forms, and subject-verb agreement
- verb tense, infinitives, participles, phrasal verbs
3. Parts of a sentence
- subject & predicate, object, clauses and phrases
4. Building and combining sentences
- structure and meaning, sentence variety, linking words
– related words, word origins, prefixes, suffixes, word combinations
– context, formal & informal language, connotative & denotative language
7.Writing for different purposes Part 1
– writing to obtain and clarify information
8.Writing for different purposes Part 2
-writing to provide information
9.Writing for business
– writing letters, short reports, submissions
– understanding concepts, essay structure, addressing all parts of a topic, understanding what is required, referencing
11.Proof reading and editing
- correcting and refining your document, targeting the intended reader
12. Special project
– reading, researching and writing for three different contexts – work, study, business.
WHAT YOU WILL DO IN THIS COURSE
Students who do the readings and lesson exercises will learn:
- basic principles and terms of English grammar
- what are the parts of speech in English, and the forms in which they can be used
- how to correctly use parts of speech, including as adverbs and pronouns
- what are the basic building blocks of English sentences
- how to construct correct sentences
- how to vary sentence structure
- what is a paragraph, and how to construct one
- common work roots and how they are used to create different English words
- the role and meanings of suffixes and prefixes
- when and how to use direct (denotative) and indirect (connotative) language in business or study
- how to write correctly for different purposes
- correct business writing
- how to respond appropriately to different study tasks
- different writing formats for workplace and study
- how and why to reference
- how to edit a piece of writing to improve its organisation and readability
- how to proof read a piece of writing to eliminate errors
- what to consider when planning a piece of writing.