The English language is one of the most popular languages to study. It is also possibly the most spoken language on the planet. Many individuals learn the language to improve their education and job prospects or to communicate more effectively with different people.
Of course, how difficult it is for pupils to learn English will depend on what language(s) they already know. English will be easier to learn if one already knows a language with similar roots or closely related to it.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the unique challenges that English presents to individuals studying it as a second language, as well as what they can do to overcome them if they’re currently learning this challenging language.
English has one of the largest and most difficult vocabularies in the world.
One of the most difficult aspects of learning a language is memorizing enough vocabulary to be able to communicate yourself in any context or subject. This is a difficult task in any language, but it’s fair to say that English is one of the most challenging.
Here are a few reasons why individuals find it so difficult:
The sheer volume of text
According to some researchers, English has the largest amount of words of any language. It has a particularly complicated lexicon because it has many diverse sources and influences, including Old English and Latin, resulting in a wide range of spellings.
For example, the words “plump” and “fat” have the same meaning, but their connotations mean they can’t always be used interchangeably (“plump” tends to imply a healthy roundness, as in a plump baby or a plump roast chicken, whereas “fat” has more negative connotations and could imply obesity or otherwise undesirable weight).
There are also a lot of synonyms that make no sense to non-native speakers or appear to indicate the reverse of each other.
Idiosyncratic spellings make it difficult to determine how to spell an English word based on how it sounds, making learning more challenging.
Despite the fact that there are many recurring patterns, there is sometimes no replacement for learning spellings by rote since there are so many exceptions to norms that logical inference is inefficient. Some examples are words ending in “-ing,” “-tion,” and so on.
Furthermore, the English language contains a large number of homophones, which are words that are spelled and/or pronounced the same but imply different things, making it more difficult to learn vocabulary and deduce meaning from how the word sounds.
Idioms and slang
As with most languages, spoken English is more casual than written English, adding to the difficulty of learning the language for the learner.
Slang is yet another part of the language that learners should master, as it is required information to understand informal communication. A simple example is “yeah,” which is slang for “yes.”
English is also filled with idioms, which may not make sense to those learning the language, yet understanding of idioms is required to speak English like a native speaker.
The Grammar difficulty for ESL learners
Grammar, which is the foundation of any language, can be difficult to grasp. The following are some of the challenges that people frequently face:
- Tenses – in some languages, tenses don’t exist.
- Words that have multiple meanings, such as the word “class”.
- Subject-verb agreement
The list goes on.
There is a lot of nuance in English grammar
English grammar is notoriously tough for students; its complexity leads to a slew of typical errors that even fluent English speakers make. However, students must overcome more than just these common blunders. The nuances of English grammar are subtle, and non-native speakers will only learn to appreciate them through practice.
Consider the distinction between “I write” (the simple past) and “I have written” (the perfect present), to which other forms like “I am writing” or “I had written” add even more intricacy with subtly different meanings.
While some of the more advanced aspects of English grammar must be learned by rote from the moment you begin learning the language, you won’t be able to fine-tune your existing English skills until you’re speaking English more confidently and can start listening to native speakers speak the language and learning from your mistakes.
Nobody expects you to be able to grasp all of this right away – it’s something you learn over time as you speak English.
The pronunciation is challenging and unreliable.
Whatever language you’re learning, mastering pronunciation can be difficult; even among northern European languages, the predominant sounds might vary significantly.
In English, some sounds are particularly difficult to pronounce.
Different nationalities struggle with different parts of English pronunciation, and there isn’t much they can do about it except practice until they can produce the correct sounds. Because the “th” sound is unusual in other languages, many EFL students find it difficult to pronounce.
Another distinction between English and other languages is the number of consonants that can be strung together in a syllable – up to three; for example, the word “stranger” has three consonants (“str”) strung together before the vowel “a.”
This is not feasible in several other languages, and it can cause pronunciation issues, with some students accidentally introducing extra vowels to break up the consonants.
As with anything else, practice makes perfect. Those who have been dealing with English pronunciation for a long time may benefit from elocution courses, which teach students how to make different sounds by changing how they use their mouth, teeth, and tongue.
It’s not always possible to deduce the pronunciation from the spelling.
Pronunciation of already difficult sounds is made more difficult by the fact that it’s often tough to guess how a word is pronounced based on its spelling, just as it’s not always easy to estimate the spelling of a word based on how it sounds.
Fortunately, not all word endings are as difficult to master as this one. All nouns ending in “-tion” are pronounced “shun” is an example. This means that you just need to memorize the exceptions to the normal ends when it comes to pronunciation
There are a lot of letters that aren’t spoken.
A lot of silent letters aren’t uttered in English which adds to the difficulty of pronunciation for students. Words that begin with a silent “K,” such as “knife” or “knock,” are both examples.
Other silent letters at the start of words include the silent “H” at the start of “honor,” The “p” at the start of “psychology,” and the “G” in “gnome.” Words that contain or terminate in silent letters, rather than beginning with them, are less noticeable.
It’s normally possible to learn the patterns comprising silent letters and guess if a letter should be pronounced. Occasionally, it is a case of trial and error. The person you’re speaking with will most likely inform you if you utter a letter that shouldn’t be pronounced.
Pronounced regional dialects change.
The diversity of regional dialects that exist in English make pronunciation even more challenging, as the same word can be pronounced extremely differently depending on who is uttering it.
Students can avoid confusion by doing their learning with someone who has a neutral accent throughout their English education. This will help them learn to pronounce terms consistently.
The Secret of Leaning a New Language. Video from Youtube.
Here are some other factors on why students find it difficult to learn the English language:
Limited practice environment.
Practice makes perfect. When it comes to linguistic difficulty for English speakers, it is more accurate. Creating a positive learning environment for yourself is a fantastic place to start.
Students frequently rely on their first language.
Many English learners and teachers argue that in a classroom setting. Pupils spend the majority of class time speaking in their mother tongue. This will not assist you in overcoming the difficulties of learning English.
Instead of attempting, students rely on their teachers.
Another issue that English learners experience is lack of effort on occasion. There will be no improvement without adequate practice. More students are confronted with these difficulties because of the growing number of English language learners. Taking risks is an important aspect of overcoming challenges in learning English. Dare to attempt because it’s always better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.
Difficulties in remembering new information learned in classes.
This is when a lot of practice comes in handy. Tenses, parts of speech, and phonics are difficult enough for children to memorize, but what about vocabulary?
Students have a hard time remembering new language and frequently fall back on the most basic concepts. This is due to a deficiency in practice. Learning a language and overcoming language learning challenges is not the same as riding a bicycle.
Without enough practice, you will lose all of your newfound information. Students can be encouraged to use the new vocabulary words in future sessions and real-life scenarios.
The more you use a language, the more deeply it becomes ingrained in your mind. Many pupils have benefited from reading books and listening to native speakers on television.
Everyone handles language in their unique way, and what works for one person may not work for another. Most pupils will come upon the points described above.
Students can better prepare themselves in their online classes if they can relate to some of these challenges. Despite the fact that learning English is difficult and time-consuming, we can see how it‘s useful and can open numerous opportunities!
Remote Classroom can help educators get the most out of their tracking capabilities, making it much easier to meet educational objectives.