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Present but not perfect: A study of problems Brazilian students encounter when learning the English present perfect tense
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education. Karlstad University. Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Avdelningen för språk.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Most Brazilian students learning English face difficulty when studying thepresent perfect. It is one of the most challenging aspects of the Englishlanguage for Portuguese speakers due to the similar form with a divergentsemantic value. The Brazilian Portuguese present perfect forces iteration andthe student automatically transfers the same meaning when translating anEnglish sentence literally. Brazilian learners get confused about when and inwhat situations to use the English present perfect and frequently are not able todistinguish it from the simple past use. This study is comprised of two parts.First, a comparative study was done to investigate which Portuguese tensetranslators of famous literary books consider to be equivalent to the Englishpresent perfect according to the message which is being conveyed. Thedatabase used was the bidirectional parallel corpus of English and PortugueseCOMPARA. Second, textbooks developed to teach English in Brazil wereanalyzed in order to verify from what perspective students were beinginstructed concerning the present perfect and whether the semantic differencesbetween the two languages were pointed out. According to the translationcorpus, the English present perfect is mostly equivalent to Brazilian Portuguesesimple past. Adverbs are also often needed to express the English presentperfect meaning in Portuguese. The textbooks were found to present poorexplanations and seem not to call the learners’ attention to the source of the problems. Textbooks do not stress the importance of the semantic value and thecontext, and do not call attention to the different meanings between theBrazilian and the English present perfect.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 57 p.
Keyword [en]
English present perfect, Brazilian Portuguese present perfect, EFL textbooks, EFL teaching, simple past, corpus, corpora, COMPARA, translation.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics Specific Languages Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-7229OAI: diva2:404674
2011-02-28, 13:00 (English)
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2011-03-30 Created: 2011-03-18 Last updated: 2011-03-30Bibliographically approved

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Sklar, Fabiana Andrioli
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