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Arabic vs English

Arabic is spoken in various forms by more than 250 million people as a mother tongue‏‎ throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

Because there are strong regional variations in Arabic, the notes below will not necessarily apply to all Arabic speakers.
Pronunciation
/p/ and /b/
Because in spoken Arabic /p/ does not exist, many Arabic speakers have difficulty hearing the difference between and pronouncing…

Azerbaijani vs English

Azerbaijani or Azeri Turkish has over 30 million speakers based in both Azerbaijan‏‎ and the surrounding countries.

It’s closely related to Turkish and is, to a certain extent, mutually understandable.

Although there are a couple of major varieties (Northern Azerbaijani and Southern Azerbaijani) and many local dialects, they do not differ substantially and speakers don’t usually have a problem understanding each other.

Northern Azerbaijani is spoken by…

Cantonese (Chinese) vs English

There is not one single Chinese language as such but several varieties which are more or less mutually understandable. In all, these are spoken by over 1 billion people (making it more popular than English).

Of the different varieties of Chinese, Mandarin is the most widely spoken version with over 800 million speakers. The other major variety is Cantonese which, along with English, is the official language of Hong Kong…

Do I need to Speak the Local Language to Teach Abroad?

One common question asked by people wanting to teach English abroad is, “Do I need to speak the local language?”
“I’m going to teach English in Korea – do I need to speak Korean?”
“I’m going to teach English in Greece – do I need to speak Greek?”
“I’m going to teach English in Mexico – do I need to speak Spanish?”
“I’m going to teach English in…

Dutch vs English

Dutch is one of the closest relatives to English and the two languages share many facets. But this article is about the main differences between the two languages so that if you ever happen to teach students with a Dutch mother tongue, you’ll understand why they make certain errors and what aspects you need to pay close attention to.

To begin with, a little about the language…

French vs English

The English‏‎ language was heavily influenced by French in the past and there is a great deal of overlap between the two languages, both in terms of vocabulary and grammar.

However there are a number of major issues that French native speakers have when they learn English and this article is all about the common problems you’ll have when teaching English to French speakers and how to overcome…

German Shitstorms are not Vulgar…

An interesting sideline to the eternal debate about taboo words‏‎.

The BBC reports that the English term, shitstorm, considered by many to be vulgar and not a word to be used in public as such, has entered the German‏‎ vocabulary. However, it has entered as a perfectly acceptable term and, for example, was used by Angela Merkel at a recent public meeting and no one batted an eyelid.

How…

German vs English

German (Deutsch) is a Germanic language, related to English and Dutch.

It is the second-most spoken language in Europe after English. It is spoken by approximately 105 million native speakers and also by about 80 million non-native speakers. It is spoken in Germany by more than 95% of the population, but also in Austria‏‎ by 89% of the population, and in Switzerland by 65% of the population. German is…

Greek vs English

Greek is spoken by about 12 million people. The majority of these are in Greece and Cyprus‏‎ whilst the Greek diaspora are generally bilingual.

This article looks at the kinds of problems Greek as a mother tongue speakers have in learning English.
Background
In Greece English films are subtitled on the television rather than dubbed and exposure to English, albeit passively, is widespread. American and British…

Hungarian vs English

If you are teaching English in Hungary or working with Hungarian native speakers who are learning English, you will find this article comparing Hungarian and English useful.

It looks at various aspects of the Hungarian language and how they relate to English. These differences will help explain why Hungarian mt speakers make certain types of errors when they speak English.
Some Background
Hungarian is the largest of the Uralic…

Italian vs English

Italian (= italiano or lingua italiana) is a Romance language spoken by about 60 million people in Italy‏‎, and by another 10 million Italian descendants in the world, particularly in Argentina‏‎, Uruguay, southern Brazil‏‎ and Venezuela where they form a very strong physical and cultural presence.

Italian is also the official language of the small state of San Marino and the Swiss cantons of Grigioni and Ticino. It is…

Old English vs Modern English

Old English was the language spoken in what is now England from around the 5th – 11th centuries and is the origin of modern English.

Back then it was called Englisc and the people who spoke were the Anglo-Saxons; Old English is also known as Anglo-Saxon.

Old English is essentially the first recorded version of English and it is the forebear of the language we speak…

Prisencolinensinainciusol – what does English sound like?

In 1972 the Italian singer Adriano Celentano released a song entitled Prisencolinensinainciusol which did something very special.

The lyrics were complete and utter gibberish except they sounded exactly like English does to an audience who don’t speak English.

Celentano deliberately wrote the “words” to sound as if he were singing English except, of course, they meant nothing.

“Ever since I started singing, I was very…

Runes vs English

Runes are the letters in the runic alphabets. Runic alphabets were alphabets used by various Germanic tribes not only to write their own languages but also in divination and magic. They were used throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Iceland before Christianity spreading from Rome took over and made these tribes abandon their runic alphabets to adopt the Latin alphabet.

The earliest runic inscriptions date back…

Russian vs English

Russian is spoken by over 150 million people, mainly in Russia itself and the countries of the former USSR.

It is part of the Slavonic branch of the Indo-European language family and as such is very different indeed from English. This article looks at those differences and how they affect Russian mother tongue speakers when they come to learn English.
Vocabulary
A certain amount of Russian vocabulary…

Vietnamese vs English

If you are teaching English in Vietnam, or teaching English to Vietnamese speakers, you may well face a few problems when your students use English.

Let’s take a simple example. Your Vietnamese students may well say things like this:
* Yesterday he go school.
* Tomorrow I go doctor.
* an asterisk at the beginning means it’s grammatically wrong
If you know nothing about Vietnamese you may…