Do you want to be TEFL or TESOL-certified in Quebec? Are you interested in teaching English in Coteau du Lac, Quebec? Check out our opportunities in Coteau du Lac, Become certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language and start teaching English in your community or abroad! Teflonline.net offers a wide variety of Online TEFL Courses and a great number of opportunities for English Teachers and for Teachers of English as a Second Language. Here Below you can check out the feedback (for one of our units) of one of the 16.000 students that last year took an online course with ITTT!
The most common linguistic problem seems to be ambiguity. Ambiguity is defined as “the quality of being open to more than one interpretation.” For the purposes of this article, that which is being open to more than one interpretation are specific words or phrases in english. In this paper, I discuss three types: lexical ambiguity, syntactic ambiguity and semantic ambiguity. Lexical ambiguity refers to “the presence of two or more possible meanings for single word.” We can use the word ‘bank' as an example to show how one word can have various meanings and also belong to different parts of speech, creating ambiguity. He went to deposit some money at the bank. The body was found on the banks of the Mississippi. The boxer banked millions when he won the fight. She's going to break the bank if she buys that dress. In the first sentence, the meaning of ‘bank' means “a financial establishment that uses money deposited by customers for investment, pays it out when required, makes loans at interest, and exchanges currency.” In the second sentence, ‘bank' means “the land alongside or sloping down to a river or lake.” In the third sentence, ‘bank' means to “win or earn (a sum of money).” In the last sentence, the word ‘bank' is used in an idiomatic expression that means “to cost too much.” english is filled with words similar to ‘bank', that unless clearly depicted by their context, cause misunderstandings and confusion among learners and native speakers alike. Syntactic ambiguity refers to “the presence of two or more possible meanings within a single sentence or sequence of words.” A sentence that seems to come up often in various articles (with the subject and place changing) as an example of this syntactic ambiguity is: I saw a man on the hill with a telescope. This sentence can express different ideas depending on how the last prepositional phrase is interpreted by the listener. If ‘with a telescope' is taken to mean accompaniment, then the sentence can be expressing one of two things “a man and a telescope were seen on the hill” or “a man was seen on the hill which has a telescope on it.” If this sentence is interpreted as identifying the tool by which the man was seen by, then it would mean that “a man was seen on the mountain by use of a telescope. Just by looking at this sentence, with no context, many questions arise that could confuse the listener. When a sentence contains too many prepositional phrases, the speaker must try to convey his/her message through explanations. However, there are many times when there is nobody who can clarify the meaning, such as when we are looking at written materials. In that case this syntactic ambiguity causes problems for native speakers and learners, as well. Semantic ambiguity refers to the presence of two or more interpretations of word or phrases that already have clear meanings and structures attached to them. Semantic ambiguity should probably be referred to as semantic vagueness because, in contrast to the two types of ambiguities I presented previously, semantic ambiguity presents a greater problem when trying to understand a word or phrase. Let's take the word ‘dog' for example and the following sentences: The dog ran to catch the ball. The dog has been domesticated for ten of thousands of years. In both cases, there are no syntactic or lexical problems. In the first sentence, we know that an animal called a dog is chasing a ball. In the second sentence, we know that an animal called a dog has been domesticated for ten of thousands of years. The problem arises with what exactly is being expressed when one says “the dog.” The first sentence is referring to a specific dog; whereas, the second sentence is referring to dogs as a species. Semantic ambiguity may not be such a great problem with native speakers, as native speakers have become accustomed to using various idiomatic expressions and are more aware of the connotations of the language they use. Semantic ambiguity can really present a great problem to learners of english because in addition to learning meanings and structures, they have to learn these unique usages. Another problem arises, when native speakers misuse well-known expressions causing confusing to both fellow native speakers and learners. As one can see, ambiguity is a serious linguistic issue that causes problems for anyone who uses english. Individual words can posses any number of meanings (lexical ambiguity) and when words are grouped, phrases can also express different ideas (syntactic ambiguity). In addition, even after knowing the meaning and understanding a word or phrase's function in a sentence, there may still be a hint of vagueness in exactly what the message of the sentence might be (semantic ambiguity). It is essential for teachers of english to be aware of these common linguistic problems and to find the time and ways to be able to help students overcome these tricky areas of the english language. References: ? http://www.teflcorp.com/articles/47-tefl-common-linguistic-problems/153-common-linguistic-problems.htm ? http://cs.nyu.edu/faculty/davise/ai/ambiguity.html ? http://web.uvic.ca/psyc/masson/BM96.pdf ? http://online.sfsu.edu/kbach/ambguity.html ? http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/linguistics/semhead.html ? http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/46277/what-word-can-fulfill-the-most-parts-of-speech ? http://grammar.about.com/od/terms/g/ambiguity.htm ? http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ ? http://oxforddictionaries.com/ ? http://languagelink.let.uu.nl/~lion/?s=Grammar_exercises/grammar_4&lang=en ? http://sadio.opentierra.com/SADIO-Files/Vaquero_Saenz_Alvarez_abstract.htm ? http://www.csi.uottawa.ca/tanka/files/complexities.html