When we commit to studying a new language, the first thing we ask ourselves is: Is this language hard to learn? And, believe me, English is no exception to this rule. This becomes quite an obstacle for fresh learners. Frustration and discouragement show up along with the first challenging barrier, hand in hand with the thought of I’m not cut out for this. But, is it such a complex language to learn?
English is not a complex language to learn. It is thought to be one of the easiest languages in the world. Despite some complexities in spelling or pronunciation, English grammar has no case, gender, or complex word agreement. Most of its grammar rules are more straightforward than in other cases.
If you have read some of my previous articles, you may have noticed that I tend to say that English is beautiful. Well, it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to learn. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged by this. Many other languages are even more challenging than this. If you have ever considered English to be a harsh language to learn, keep reading and find out the different factors that may incline the scale to either side.
So, to help you decide whether English is a complicated language to learn or not, we have decided to do some research and bring you the main obstacles you may encounter while trying to master it. To do so, we took some general rules from other languages as a reference, mainly because you need something to compare it to get to a final decision.
As we grow up, we become familiar with our native language rules. This makes them sound natural while rejecting any other language that differs from it in any way. However, due to the 6,000 different existing languages worldwide, it becomes quite impossible for us to draw a parallel between English and each one of them. Instead, we chose some English language features that may make it hard to learn for non-English speakers.
English is the result of a combination of other root languages. English words derive mainly from old German and Norman-French. Its alphabet contains 26 letters that need to represent and reproduce around 43 speech sounds. That’s why its spelling is considered widely irregular. In simpler words, if you do the maths, it’s inevitable to have one identical spelling sequence sound in two or more different ways. Such are the cases of, for example, sound and soup.
Coincidentally, and to make things seem even harder, these irregular spelling rules in English also work the other way. Some words are spelled differently yet sound alike. Think, for instance, in the color blue and the word shoe. Lots of words have the same phonetics with different spelling. However, practice makes an expert. And by learning some of the spelling rules, you will get a step closer to mastering the language.
Phrasal verbs can become a difficulty for foreign learners when trying to master the language. As they aren’t present in other languages, they may be complex to understand and apply. They require practice and patience. And you may think you’ve got the hang of them all but still have more to learn.
There are many ways to learn the different meanings and uses of phrasal verbs. Depending on your time, experience, and persistence, you can recur to lessons, online articles, songs, and books or texts to enrich your phrasal verb knowledge. But, one thing is absolutely for sure: you will need practice.
All these factors we mentioned before are not invisible to the English-speaking eye. In fact, some authors have pronounced against English being an easy language to learn. Take a look at this poem, which explains how complicated the English language can be in a funny (yet quite realistic) way. And this deals with plural forms alone!
Now, after reading all this, you may be wondering why we insist on the English language being (beautifully) easy to learn. And that question has a straight answer! This language may have tricky words or rules. But it’s easy to absorb for the same reason that makes it essential for you to speak it: English is present everywhere.
This worldwide omnipresence of the English language makes it both a critical piece of knowledge and easy to understand. No matter what country you live in or what language you speak, it is present in your everyday routine. Call it billboards, advertisements, your job, school, or hobby. It is somehow there, ready for you to grasp it.
So, now that you know what makes people think English is a complex language to learn, you can now tackle those barriers and get a step further into mastering it. Follow our tips on how to improve your language performance. Read, listen to music, write. But most of all, enjoy doing it! Remember to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to learn more tricks and tips on how to master the English language. Thanks for reading, see you next time!