Due to the influence of Contrastive Analysis (CA), there has been ample research on how L1 may interfere with L2 learning. Such research has produced many useful findings and led to new views or theories about the role of L1, including the weak- or posteriori-view of CA and Error Analysis (which focuses on identifying systematic learner errors and determining the sources of the errors afterwards when possible, rather than on L1 and L2 differences). However, CAinspired research has also resulted in what I consider to be an excessive emphasis on interlanguage differences along with an under-appreciation of the underlying L1 and L2 similarities that can and should be explored to help L2 learning. Using Chinese speakers learning English as a case in point, I try to argue in this article that there are actually important overlooked similarities underlying some of the most well-known lexico-grammatical differences between Chinese and English that have been thought to be the major sources of difficulties for Chinese EFL/ESL learners. For example, although morphological inflections and phrasal verbs have long been considered two prominent English structural features lacking in Chinese, a close look at the Chinese language will reveal that it actually makes use of both lexico-grammatical features, though to a lesser degree and in different manners/formats. In other words, these two important English lexico-grammatical concepts do also exist in Chinese. Then, using concrete examples, I will further contend that making learners understand the similarities that underly well-known surface inter-language differences may help learners more effectively grasp the lexicogrammatical structures they are learning.
Learners often misuse in academic writing Synonyms are lexical items that express the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses and contexts. In a strict sense, most synonyms are near-synonyms. While near-synonyms are ubiquitous in language, they are very difficult to grasp even for native speakers, but particularly so for L2 learners because often near-synonyms in one language may not be the same in another language. In this workshop, we will examine some near-synonyms which, based on the speaker’s published and ongoing research findings, Chinese EFL/ESL writers often misuse, including “demand/request/require,” “discrepancy/disparity/divergence,” and “important/significant/vital.” Effective ways for learning to differentiate near-synonyms and to use them correctly and effectively in academic writing will be explored via hands-on activities.