Recently while checking the students’ Chinese homework, I find that although being in fully immersion program from quite a young age, they are still suffering from the negative transfer from English grammar to Chinese sentence structure.
For example, the Time and Place are usually placed in the end of a sentence as adverbial modifier in English. While in Chinese,for the most case, those are placed in the beginning of the sentence. Another example, “都” and “所有” can both be translated in to “all” in English, While in Chinese, the semantic orientation of “都”points to the content in front of it; “所有” is the opposite way. the kids are mixing them up and since they learned “都” much earlier, they tend to use it under most circumstance.
Immersion is aboslutly great way of learning a second language, especially when the learner are in a young age. The effect can be amazing, showed by their natural pronunciation, their accumulation of vocabulary, and the speed they pick up the language.
But is there any perfect way of second language teaching? The answer seems to be no. No matter how immersed they are in the target language, it’s still their second language. The negative transfer from the mother tongue seems like unavoidable. Will grammar teaching really be so bad to ruin the immersion method?
Of course, I don’t mean going back to the “grammar translation method era”, making the second language class really boring and hard. Immersion is definitely a big progress. But it should be more like a “post-methods era”, we should use all factors that are beneficial in all different teaching methods.
So, what about some easy grammar in Immersion class? I don’t seem to see the harm!