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5 biggest challenges of learning English

by Kate Wilson

The English language is one of the most popular languages to learn, perhaps the most spoken language around the world is English, and many people choose to learn the language simply to place them in a better position to secure work, or communicate more effectively with more people from around the globe. English might be a popular language to learn, but this doesn't necessarily mean it is a simple language to master, there are many challenges people face when learning English and if you are aware of these beforehand you stand a much greater chance of mastering the language.

Here are 5 of the biggest challenges people must face when learning to speak and write English:

1. Grammar

English Grammar is complex, making it difficult to remember, master and use logically. Ensuring you use the correct grammar can be tricky, especially when you are in conversation with someone and they are speaking at an alarmingly fast pace. Learning grammar is like learning to drive, you can learn all of the theory, rules and regulations, but you won't be good at it unless you practice it and it starts to become second nature to you. Grammar is extremely important, incorrect use of grammar can confuse the person you are speaking to and even change the meaning of what you are communicating, what's more is native English speakers are hyper aware of grammar and will notice almost immediately if a grammatical error is made, even if this is the smallest of errors, English speakers are incredibly proud of the language and look negatively on it being used incorrectly.

[Note from Simon Ager, author of Omniglot: some native speakers of English might be very aware of grammar and will notice even the smallest mistakes. They are known as pedants, and are best avoided by English learners. If you are taking an exam or using English in another formal situation, try to avoid mistakes, if possible, but in informal situations this is not so important.]

2. Vocabulary

Is often a challenge, particularly when it comes to verb variations and understanding which tense should be used in various situations. English has one of the biggest vocabularies of all languages, and it can be very confusing for non-English speakers to master. Using vocabulary inaccurately is incredibly noticeable to anyone who's first language is English, though it doesn't often change the meaning of your text, it does weaken it.

3. Slang and colloquialism

With the English language having such an extensive vocabulary and complicated grammar, there is enough to teach students wanting to learn English, rarely are students exposed to the slang words used by English speakers in every day conversation. Sentences can be predominantly filled with slang words, so maintaining a conversation can be difficult for anyone who doesn't understand what they mean.

4. Pronunciation

Knowing how to pronounce words in English can be very difficult as it isn't always obvious. English speakers have been taught these from an early age, which is how they know not to pronounce the ‘k' on ‘knight' , they are taught the subtleties in how to pronounce something to communicate the right message. Furthermore, depending on the first language of the English student, it can often be difficult to pronounce certain words properly, having not ever had to create that phonetic sound before.

5. Variations in English

The variations in the different forms of English can often be difficult to understand. For example, the difference between using formal and informal language or the differences between spoken and written language. This leads to students writing words phonetically, i.e. how they would say it rather than how its actually spelt, and using informal language, maybe even slang that they have picked up, in formal situations which may perhaps be viewed negatively.

Good luck in learning one of the most difficult languages in the world today…remember practice is the key.

Kate Wilson is a freelance writer, currently she works with Translation Services 24. She loves to travel and learn about different cultures and new languages.