Is English not your mother tongue? If you plan to learn this language, you’ve probably thought about, is English a hard language to learn?
When you have decided to learn a new language, one of the first questions to come to your mind is, is the language easy or hard to learn? Well, regardless of whether you want to learn English, Japanese, French, and other languages, the answer is always subjective. But generally, we can sum up the factors. The list includes your native language, personal context, and attitude.
Read on and find out more about this subject.
Is English a Hard Language to Learn: What Do the Experts Say?
If you grew up in a country that uses English as the primary language, then learning to speak it is something you’ve been learning and doing since you were little. You can even tell that it’s easy. English is related to various Latin languages, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. Many experts claim that it is easier to learn than other languages. Notably, some of the most complex languages to grasp are Mandarin and Arabic because they are totally unrelated to what you already know. It will likely be awkward when you’ve come across native speakers of such languages because of several factors like pronunciations and tenses.
So, let’s get back to the question, is English a hard language to learn? Rest easy now because, according to language experts, it is not. But why do most people think otherwise?
Why Do Many Learners Think English is a Complicated Language?
You might laugh at it, but many people think that English is the hardest language to learn as it has words and grammar rules that are deliberately nonsense. These linguistic quirks are notably just there to make English learners think it is a complicated subject. Let us talk about some of them.
1. English rules are laced with multiple inconsistencies.
As the popular notion goes, there are rules, then there are exceptions to rules. But wait, in the English language, there are even exceptions to the exceptions!
Take a look at the following examples. Just think of these inconsistencies:
- Teachers teach, and preachers preach. If we use the verbs in the past tense, you will get, “The teacher taught.” However, it is wrong to say that the preacher praught.
- The plural form of goose is geese. However, the plural form of moose is mooses and not meece.
- The same inconsistency goes with the plural of mouse and house. You can say mice on the first, but not hise or hice on the second. The proper plural is houses.
- The words “see” and “look” have the same meaning, or we can call them synonyms. However, when they are joined with the word “over” to form a compound word, you’ll get results with different meanings –oversee and overlook.
Surely, you have encountered more of these examples if you are already in the phase of learning English grammar.
Sometimes, it’s hard to explain the correct word order. Let’s compare two sentences.
- It’s a little fierce cat.
- It’s a fierce little cat.
According to the standard adjective order, the size comes first, then the subject’s quality or characteristic. However, if you’re a native English speaker, you might say that the first sentence is correct. When you replace the world little with big, it will become “It’s a big fierce cat,” which doesn’t sound wrong as well.
2. The English language has many words with confusing spellings.
The universal language is considered by many as the hardest language to learn as it traces its roots to many different languages. And suppose you happen to be a beginner. In that case, you will surely agree that there are many confusing words, mainly because the way they are spelled does not indicate how they must be pronounced. Take the word yacht, for example. What do the letters tell you about their pronunciation? Well, it reads as “yot.” The other examples are:
- Bough – it is read as bow
- Rough – it is read as ruff
- Through – it is read as thru
Isn’t it crazy? Here’s more about the silent letters. In particular, a silent letter is the one that does not correspond or contribute sound to the pronunciation. Unfortunately, the English language is rich in words with silent letters. These irrelevant letters often confuse even those that have a good grasp of the English language.
Here are some examples:
Now let’s talk about a particular letter, “c.” This letter also confuses many because it can be used in a word with the sound of “k” or “s.” So, which is which?
Here are some English words where “c” should be pronounced as a “k.”
Meanwhile, here are words where this letter sounds like “k.”
3. There are many distinct regional accents.
If you’re a native English speaker, do not mock others who struggle to speak the language as best as they can. Though the words they speak are English, expect that they might still sound like they speak in their own native tongue because of the accent. This factor can still create barriers between people who are trying to communicate with each other. However, it’s manageable if we try to listen instead of laughing or mimicking them.
How Can You Learn English Fast and Easy?
Is English a hard language to learn? Again, many experts claim that it is not. But whether you believe it or not, you can take complete control of your learning. Since people worldwide recognize the importance of learning and using a universal language. There are now seemingly unlimited ways to learn, even by yourself. And in this post, we might be able to help you find out the quickest and easiest route. Here are 12 proven and tested tips you can try.
1. Start practicing English verbally as soon as possible.
If you are determined to learn English and your time is limited, you might as well muster self-confidence. According to the experts, engaging in regular conversation with native or fluent English speakers can help you learn quickly.
Notably, the quicker you can break the mental barrier of actually trying your language skills, the more confident you will be in testing out what you have learned. Yes, you might use some words wrong, and some may laugh at you, but there will always be someone who will correct you. The key is to take constructive criticism lightly and think that it is a significant part of learning.
The faster you can break the mental barrier of testing out your language skills out loud, the faster you will be able to speak confidently.
In one study performed by the University of Michigan in 2016, the results show that students who tried to engage in English conversations online with fluent speakers learned faster than those who used the traditional learning method.
Let’s put it simply. No matter how excellent you are in answering vocabulary exercises, grammar lessons more through writing, you will always face the risk of applying what you have learned verbally. Perhaps, you might have heard someone wondering why they can understand most of what they read or hear in English, but they just can speak the language well.
Fortunately, you can practice your English speaking skills even from the comfort of your own home. You just have to browse the Internet, and you’ll find programs, courses, and tutors that can serve the purpose. More good news –most of these learning tools come for free!
As they say, even a one-hour session with a native English speaker can make all the difference in the length of time you need to dedicate to learn the language. You can record your progress, and you will surely feel 100% satisfied in the end.
2. Make reading English learning materials a hobby.
We now live in a time where sourcing English learning materials can be done in just a few clicks. Since English is considered the universal language, almost all countries ensure that what they produce is written in English or translated from their native language. You can find good English novels like those written by Shakespeare, magazines, blogs that are written in English.
There’s almost no shortage whether you have an Internet connection or not. If you’re not into literature, you can try the following:
- Check reader-friendly websites such as Mashable, Upworthy, and Buzzfeed, and browse gossip about your favorite celebrity or politician.
- Find a book written in your native language that has an English-translated version.
- Set your search browser’s default language in English.
- Follow American/Australian/British public figures and influencers on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
- If you find yourself getting bored in reading, challenge yourself. Try Fry Words. The experts claim that it contains the first 1000 words that all beginners must learn.
3. Practice self-discipline by making yourself accountable.
If you dedicate yourself to your goal, you might say no as the answer to the recurring question “Is English as a hard language to learn?”. You can even speed up your learning progress by making yourself accountable. To make English learning a habit, you have to be a bit hard on yourself, or in simpler terms, you have to build self-discipline.
So, what can you do? You can start with simple things such as allotting a specific time of the day for your English lessons. You can set the alarm on your phone, so you won’t forget. Also, despite your busy schedule, you must not take your English learning time for granted, especially over petty things. Stay motivated by assigning target goals. While many people and learning tools and materials can help you, always remember that your progress heavily depends on your willingness to learn. You can buy all the books you need, but it would be nothing if you didn’t read them. You can pay different English tutors, but nothing or only a little will change if you are not focused or concentrated.
4. Choose an English tutor who understands you and your goals.
Most of the time, it is easier to get motivated when someone consistently pushes you to do so. And without a doubt, English tutors are some of the best people for this purpose. However, you can’t just pick the first person that comes out of the results page. You have to find a partner you feel you can connect with, preferably someone with the same life experiences or interests. It is definitely easier to stick to your learning goals when your English tutor is sincerely rooting for your success!
5. Set achievable goals, step by step.
Is English a hard language to learn? Again, it is not. However, it doesn’t mean that you can learn everything you need to learn overnight. Not because you have tons of English reading materials, or not because you pay expensive English programs and tutors, you can be fluent in just a week or a month. Setting goals is necessary, yes, but you have to set measurable goals, one at a time.
In the English language learning community, many people dream about becoming fluent. But if you are only taking your first step on learning the language, do you think this must be your first goal on the list? Probably not. Being fluent in reading, speaking, and writing English is more of an end goal. Fortunately, it is not impossible even if you start late than most.
- Within two months, I want to engage in small talks or English conversations with familiar topics such as weather, sports, tourism, and the likes, with fluent or native English speakers.
- Within five months, I want to email my business partners in English without using Google translate or without relying on a dictionary.
- After a year of learning English online, I want to get a perfect score in the TOEFL exam to apply to my desired university or my dream job.
6. Do not forget about your personal goal.
As with anything, there is no shortcut to becoming good at any craft. Learning English will take serious time, effort, and energy. If you don’t want to lose your motivation, always think of the end goal that sets your heart on fire.
Identify your goal and stick to it. Put your efforts and do everything so you can take one step at a time towards it. When frustration sets in, think of the reason why you have started learning the language. Go back if you have to or if you need to, but keep on moving.
7. Listen to English songs that can make your heart sing.
You might not be aware, but music is also a universal language. It is a powerful and valuable tool that can make English sound more natural. Notably, songs written in English often use simple vocabulary, and the lyrics are written in such a way that they are easy to understand and memorize. You can learn simple and complex sentence structure, and you can do it even if you are doing something else. The good news is, there is no shortage of songs and genres that will surely catch your attention. Since you will fall in love with the music, there’s a high chance you will listen to a song over and over again. Talk about learning by repetition!
8. Learn English by watching TV.
If you are not into music, you can turn to television series and movies. As mentioned above, most entertaining film and tv series producers offer their works in English or put subtitles so that people worldwide would find them easy to understand. According to a study performed by Kaplan media, here are some of the tv shows that can effectively help beginners to understand the language.
- How I Met Your Mother
- The Big Bang Theory
9. Find an English learning community.
If you don’t have a budget for a private English tutor, don’t be disheartened. There are many forums and communities on the Internet whose members are English learners. You can choose a community with the same level as you. You can go for beginners, average, advanced, and experts. Think of a video game level; you can move to another once you have conquered the last round!
To sum up this article and to answer the repeatedly asked question “Is English a hard language to learn?” Like any other thing, learning English can be difficult. But according to a famous saying, an expert was once a beginner. If you will focus your mind on your goal and if you will become resourceful, committed, and disciplined, you will surely say in the end that learning the universal language is an easy peasy task!