Fossilized Errors 2

What mistakes do you usually make when learning a foreign language?

I am a Cambridge certified English teacher. Since 2000 I have worked with many Czech students.

In this blog post, I’d like to share some of my  observations regarding the differences between Czech and English. I hope that my insights will help other students avoid possible grammatical difficulties in their classroom.

Grammatical relationships, gender, case and tenses in Slavonic
languages such as Czech are often shown by changes in the internal
structure of words rather than by word order and auxiliary verbs.
Therefore, pronouns and auxiliaries are frequently left out by students.
For example the question “Do you want it?” will come out as “You want
it?”.

Overuse of will is also a common feature. I often hear sentences like
“She will help him when she will get there”. Mistakes like this derive
from the fact that Czech has only three grammar tenses – past, present
and future.

This means that Czech learners are not familiar with the perfect verb
forms and face a challenge understanding the grammar concepts such as
‘something that started in the past and continues up to now’, just to
name one of the present perfect uses.

Another difficulty students often experience is the difference
between present simple and continuous tenses. Students might say things
like “I’m taking a bus to work every day”.

Word order is also much more flexible in the Czech language. A good
example would be the question “Co to je? – What is it?” which is often
changed to “Co je to? – What it is?”. This flexibility is a source of
syntax difficulties, especially in the use of frequency adverbs. For
example students might say “Always I play tennis on Saturdays.”

Slavonic languages do not have any definite or indefinite articles.
Czech learners leave the article out, especially in lower levels. I hear
sentences like “I always go to pub on Fridays.” very often.

Why, how and when do we correct these mistakes?

Fossilized Errors 1

Fossilized Errors 3

Martin Norling, LOS Founder & CEO