Double Vision – How do I get students to stop using the word TO too much?

Photo: Omri Epstein

This is a classic problem of language interference. Many Hebrew speakers, with perfect hearing, say such things as :

“I want to help to the man.”

“She gave to the man his money.”

They say this because this is exactly the way it is said in Hebrew.

If the hearing students have such trouble with this, it comes as no surprise that my pupils really have a problem with it. It is a question of remembering rules when you don’t hear the language spoken.

This came up again in class today because we were correcting students’ answers on the worksheets related to the video “The Power of Words”  . The students used the words “help” “give” frequently in their answers, along with those extra “to” words.

HELP & GIVE are such “warm”, “rich” and strong words. Has anyone used some sort analogy, imagery or mnemonic device to help students to remember not to add “to” after them?

5 thoughts on “Double Vision – How do I get students to stop using the word TO too much?”

  1. I’ve had my students make posters today showing common mistakes, including prepositions they often mistake. They’ll appear on my blog in a few days (two groups haven’t finished yet), with them writing sentences and colouring in the important things (in this case, a crossed out ‘to’)
    Does that make sense?

  2. I can imagine they learned a lot by preparing these posters! Such an activity is a multi-sensory one! Best for stimulating memory!
    Posters lead to another thought though – when I was in college (long time ago) I had a professor who adamantly said there should never be anything with a mistake in it hanging on the wall, as that will invariably be remembered by some students. I’m not sure that’s true – I have all these things in proper English on the walls and the students don’t seem to remember them… sigh

  3. I don’t have any suggestions for you Naomi about Hebrew… So sorry!
    But I do know, that those kinds of mistakes between English and Spanish are so normal and just part of the language journey. Between Spanish and English speakers there are many mistakes like that. Like, the personal a in Spanish. If there is a person following the verb in Spanish, one must have the letter a after the verb and before the person in sentence. English speakers always forget it. Or the word order of both languages is different….big elephant vs. elefante grande. I think these types of errors are cleared up with time. I constantly remind my students, but they still make thef same errors. I’m going to forward your post on to a good friend of mine with knowledge of Hebrew and another Hebrew Teacher who teaches English-speaking students here in Chicago area. Maybe they can help?

  4. Hmm. No. Beyond explanations about why there’s no TO, it’s always come down to recasting and other error correction for me. So, short answer: NO. Long answer: I’m sure there are some miraculous forms of analogy or imagery, but I don’t know them.

  5. Lauren!
    Your experiences as a lang. teacher are valid – it doesn’t matter which language it is! Mother tongue interference is always an issue. Your post about using music just highlights how hard it is to overcome the interference when learning the language without hearing it.
    Thank you so much for thinking of other teacher to talk to!

    Tyson – After that lesson I had where it seemed that all the examples that came up were related to helping and giving, I wondered it someone had found an underlying rule or fun analogy. Not yet, I guess! Nice to know we’re all in the same boat! LOL!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *