For Malaysian students, speaking in English is one of the most challenging skills to master, especially if they do not have a strong command of the language. Meanwhile in China, the English language is primarily employed as a means of academic communication and teaching. This paper aims to identify which linguistic items have been transferred positively and negatively from L1 (Bahasa Melayu and Mandarin) in speaking English (L2) among primary school students. A qualitative study among primary school students from China and Malaysia was carried out using purposive sampling. Based on the findings, four types of syntactic errors from the Malaysian students' speech were identified. It was evident that the students had difficulties to speak correctly in terms of sentence structure. The four syntactic errors found are simple past, simple present, verb ‘to be’ and subject-verb-agreement. Meanwhile, it has been found that Chinese students frequently produce linguistic mistakes during their utterances of L2 speech as a result of L1 interference. This research also exposed that the students are still unconsciously relying on their mother tongue to translate their sentence into L2. The study is expected to help ESL teachers to draw the analogies between corresponding L1 and L2 syntax constructions. The findings will contribute and direct the learners’ attention to cross-language syntactic similarities and differences and thus guide them to a deeper understanding of underlying linguistic structure.