There are an estimated 6, 000 languages spoken throughout the world. With so many languages, it may surprise many to learn that learning the English language can be one of the more difficult tasks. There are a number of reasons why students encounter obstacles when they are learning English.
Pronunciation: The English language has no exact pronunciation. Some words contain 'silent' letters which means they are not spoken. Some letters may be pronounced differently such as 'ah' for 'A'. Other languages such as the German language vocalize every letter and have only one pronunciation. How the stress is placed on certain German consonants or vowels can make English such a difficult language to learn. There are hard and soft consonants like 'c' taking on a 'k' sound which depends on the context of which they are spoken. There are silent letters in some words and there are some consonants that when put together will project an entirely different sound. (i.e....'th') The odd combinations and changing rules in the pronunciation of words makes English much more difficult to learn.
Grammar: The succession of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs has their own particular order for the many different languages in the world. With the English language, the order can vary. For instance, Chinese learners tend to write indirect sentences. For example: "The boy was bitten by the neighbour's dog." instead of "The neighbour's dog bit the boy." To write proper sentences and passages, English learners have to learn a new and different way of using grammar. Assimilating English into a conversation can be difficult because learners have to use different sentence structures than their native language.
Verb Tense: Some languages have very narrow connotations of verb tense. Often the use of present and past verb tense can make learning English quite complicated. For instance, in certain situations, it may be appropriate to use any of the following tenses: present; past; and future. The verb 'sing' can be used in the following forms depending on tense: 'sing,' 'sang,' or 'sung.'
Learning Tools: Many students are only taught to learn from books so they do not have the chance to practice the speaking language. They tend to lack the confidence when they try to speak the English language in public. Reading aloud can help them improve their English speaking abilities
Slang: The use of slang is common in the English language. Words, terms, and phrases do not have the same meaning that they would normally have in a dictionary definition. Learning the language requires learning the use of slang which means understanding that different slang terms make English an almost entirely different language that has to be learned. Sometimes terms that are used are not even found in the English dictionary. This can make difficult for someone not familiar with the language. This is where television, movies, magazines, and the radio become helpful tools when learning the language.
Gender and Culture: A person's cultural practices can affect their ability to learn English. For instance, in some cultures a woman tends to be the one to stay home and raise the children. They are less likely to be interacting with English speakers unlike a man who would be out in the workforce interacting with English speakers.
The English language is one of the most widely spoken languages. The inability to speak or understand the native English language can seem frustrating. Although the complexities of learning the language may seem overwhelming, the benefits are well worth the effort. Reading, speaking, and listening to others speak English are an important part of learning the language.
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