Cheatsheet for English Language Learners – Part 2

 In Grammar

English is a complex language, and the spelling of a word in English isn’t always a clear indication of HOW that word is pronounced.  You may have a head start learning English if your native language shares some words—like French does—or if the grammar is similar—as is the case with Chinese, but even then you will have a lot to learn.

In our previous blog, we named the first two common problems that ESL learners face:

1. The Tendency to Translate from your Native Language

2. Subject/Verb Agreement

Common English language learning obstacles

Let’s explore the next 3 points about ESL experiences

3. Past, Present, and Future Tenses

Past Present Future
Simple Past Simple Present Future Simple
Past Progressive/


Present Progressive/


Future Progressive/


Past Perfect Present Perfect Future Perfect
Past Perfect Continuous/

Past Perfect Progressive

Present Perfect Continuous/

Present Perfect Progressive

Future Perfect Continuous/

Future Perfect Progressive

Yeah, that’s a lot to think about, but many languages have these forms of verb tense.  The real issue for most ESL students is how the word order in an English sentence expresses tense.  For example, maybe a student says, “I have played video games yesterday.”  Instead of, “I played video games yesterday.”

“Grammer Up”, “Voxy”, and “SpeakingPal English Tutor” are all great learning apps available in  App Store, or Google play.  They are interactive, offer games to make learning fun, and in the case of “Voxy” and “SpeakingPal”, the option to connect to native speakers.

4. Not Understanding Homonyms

english homonyms

She needs to bake bread and so she kneads the flour

There are 2 categories of Homonyms.  Homophones—mail/male, steal/steel, hymn/him, need/knead, bite/byte…

Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different meanings, and are spelled differently.

Homographs—does/does, can/can, tear/tear…

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings, and are often pronounced differently.

It’s easy to see how homonyms could confuse ESL students.  Of the 2 types, homophones are the bigger problem for ESL students, especially on written work.

english conversation5. Not Practicing your English with Native Speakers

It’s going to be intimidating to use your English with native speakers.  You may feel self-conscious about your accent, or pronunciation.  Try to speak up.  Do your best imitation of an American accent.  You’d be surprised how thinking of it as an acting exercise will help to get you out of your own head.  Be the star of your ESL studies.


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