There has been ample research on how L1 may interfere with L2 learning. Such research has produced many useful findings about the difficulties that L1-L2 differences may cause in L2 learning. However, while research on L1-L2 differences is certainly warranted, there does not appear to have been adequate research on L1-L2 similarities and how exploring such similarities may assist L2 learning. Using Chinese speakers learning English (an L1 and L2 that are two unrelated languages) as a case in point and guided by contemporary linguistic theories, this article tries to argue that more attention should be paid to exploring L1-L2 similarities to enhance L2 learning. It begins with an overview of the main linguistic theories about language and language acquisition to delineate their evolution and show their impact on language learning/teaching. Then, with concrete examples, it demonstrates that there are both obvious Chinese-English similarities and some important overlooked similarities underlying a few of the most well-known lexico-grammatical differences between the two language that have been regarded as the major sources of difficulties for Chinese EFL/ESL learners. In the process, the article also explains how exploring these similarities may help learners more effectively grasp the lexico-grammatical structures and usages they are learning. A few principles for conducting such explorations are also provided.
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-synonymsand to use them correctly and effectively in academic writing will be explored via hands-on activities.