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How can I explain these simple mistakes to young learners?

  1. I no speak English.
    (instead of don’t)

  2. You be my teacher?

  3. How long are you knowing my friend?

  4. I have twenty years.

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    You don't say exactly how young they are, so it's hard to be sure what might work best. But pedagogically speaking, I'm curious as to why you're bothering to analyse their mistakes with them. The risk is that you'll make them afraid of committing errors instead of just practising their spoken English. If they are at the basic level that your question implies, you'd be much better off just getting them going, correcting them by saying the terms in the standard way and getting the kids to repeat them. The'll learn fine through repetition without the need for you to first give them hangups. :-) – Erik Kowal May 12 '14 at 13:21
  • It would be useful to know the mother tongue if your students and how these mistakes are related to that language. – rogermue May 12 '14 at 14:44
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1) I no speak English.( instead of don't)

In English the negation is formed with not, not with no. Also, in a negation or a question, you usually have to use the auxiliary verb do:

I speak English.
I do not speak English.
Do you speak English?


2) You be my teacher?

The verb be has to be conjugated just like other verbs. They will have to learn that:

I am, you are, he is, we are, you are, they are.

Also, in a question, you usually change the order of subject and verb.

I am John.
Are you John?


3) How long are you knowing my friend?

This one is on a different level, and it depends on the context what would be correct. This would be an option:

How long have you known him?

Here I would suggest you first try to explain the usage rules for verb tenses as they are in your teaching materials.


4) I have twenty years.

That is simply idiom: in English you use the verb be, not have for age. This is simply different per language, and there is no rhyme or reason to it :)

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