the pros and cons of learning English


Are you planning to study English? One of the first things you should do is to find out about the pros and cons of learning English so that you can establish your goals and routines. 

Learning the English language can be easy or difficult –it depends on how you take the challenge, and of course, your dedication and commitment among many other things. During your journey, you will discover that it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. The pros and cons of learning English can easily outweigh one another, however, if you really want to be proficient, you might want to look at the brighter side. 

In this post, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of learning the universal language so please read on. 

The Advantages of Learning English

Considered as the universal language, English is recognized as the speaking language in most countries. In fact, a tourist would visit some countries without even learning the native language because they can easily use English to converse with locals. Moreover, schools from all around the globe integrate English learning as part of their curriculum. 

Improves cognitive function

Many research concludes that learning a language, in this instance, English, helps the brain function by improving an individual’s thinking skills and memory abilities. Bilingualism is closely tied to cognitive flexibility. This concept is reflected in one’s ability to switch between languages. 

Cognitive decline is a major societal issue. Notably, learning English or a foreign language could protect a person against this severe problem. Cognitive decline is defined as the self-reported experience of worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss that could lead to more serious conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Learning English engages a person in a higher level of critical thinking in both situational and behavioral contexts. Language learners concentrate better and can ignore distractions more effectively than those who speak only a single language.

Correspondingly, a recent study from Dr. Thomas Bak— a lecturer at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Science— conveys that young adults proficient in two or more languages exhibit better performance on attention tests and better concentration skills than those who only spoke a single language. Cognitive improvement is not only shown in the abilities of the learners. Another study conducted in Sweden focused on visualization of the brain. It showed that MRI scans of the participant’s brains who were engaged in learning English increased in size. 

Though it is mentioned that there are pros and cons to learning English, the first advantage is excellent to help a person, young ones or adults, to increase general intelligence and protect their brain against aging. They possess an advanced ability to process verbal materials. Studies proved that a positive and significant relationship was found between language proficiency and cognitive performance. 

Open bridges to new and wider connections

People from different sides of the world may not have the proficiency of a native English speaker. Still, even the basic understanding of different words pieced together is an excellent start to building connections. Establishing relationships with people coming from different backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic statuses, and races with the use of a language gives you a great chance of making a lasting connection with them. 

Think of this scenario, a kid from Japan making origami meets a kid from the Philippines. Both have entirely different mother tongues. The only thing they share is their basic knowledge of a few English words and how to introduce themselves in the universal language. The Filipino kid may just point to the origami and say, ‘how?’. From there, the Japanese kid will demonstrate the process of making basic origami step-by-step for the Filipino kid to follow. The simple moment and a single word initiated their connection. 

English is the official language declared in 53 countries and is being spoken as the first language by around 400 million people worldwide. It is the most common second language in the world. Hence, there’s likely a high chance that if you meet someone coming from another country. The English skill you will acquire is the crucial instrument you can use to communicate and create a positive relationship with easily. 

Promotes global competence and shared interest

The pros and cons of learning English also depend on the individual involved in the learning. One of the evident advantages in learning the English language is global competence. 

Global competence refers to the capacity of an individual to learn about the world and how it works. It is a construct requiring a mixture of knowledge, skills, attitude, and values to appropriately apply to global issues or intercultural situations. One of the pros of learning English is the ability to see the world on a broader scale and perspective. Different races coming from varied backgrounds and speaking equally different and unique languages may share the same passion for learning English. Following that is mutual respect and appreciation of their differences. 

Thanks to our advanced technology, the possibilities for human interaction are endless. People expand their circle virtually with the use of the internet. This way, they have the chance to search on a broad scope and meet people who have a lot in common. Interactive social applications like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Linke-In, and Instagram are just some examples of the trendy social media apps nowadays. Sharing interests with people and being able to understand them or connect to a certain level helps you gain perspective and be more globally competitive. 

Now that clear advantages are mentioned, the following will be about the cons of learning English. 

The Disadvantages of Learning English

No matter how proficient you think you are in the English language, you will still need to take an English proficiency test to know how much you’ve improved or if you even improved at all. 

As simple as it may seem, English is a rich language that is composed of many elements. Those elements are not as straightforward or light as may appear, and even native linguists have difficulty completely mastering the language. 

English is a difficult language.

To give you an example of how complex the English language is, take a look at the word ‘GHOTI.’ How do you think that word is pronounced? You probably think it’s pronounced as it is— GHO – TI. Honestly, ‘Ghoti’ is not even a real word, and it’s actually pronounced as ‘fish’. Why? How can GHOTI and FISH sound the same?

  • gh = f as in rouGH
  • o = i as in women
  • ti = sh as in naTIon

Again, it is not a real word, but this is a compelling presentation to show the inconsistency of English spelling and pronunciation. It is vital to understand that fluency and proficiency in this language need time, understanding, analysis, and commitment. 

English also has a wide collection of vocabulary. There are words that can be substituted by a lot more different words. Also, there are words that should only be used in certain circumstances. Due to this, learners in the early stage of acquiring English skills find it difficult to continue. There are also lots of grammatical rules to consider for better sentence construction. 

Skills in English is often used as a basis for intelligence.

In addition, there’s an existing stigma in non-English speaking countries that equates intellectual capacity to one’s ability to speak English. This is a factor that intimidates those who are still in the early process of learning. 

An individual’s inability to construct a sentence with proper grammar or even have a minor mistake can easily make them the center of judgment. This is a sad reality that occurs in some non-English-speaking countries. Situations like this are the root cause of bullying and embarrassment that leave a long-term effect on the victim’s mental and emotional well-being.

English can cause the death of certain languages.

Frequent use of the English language can deteriorate the mother tongue. According to a study by H. Quevedo, as globalization and the English language increasingly strengthen its intercultural impact, smaller and less influential countries, and their language become greatly affected. 

Basically, language death occurs when native speakers of a language do not use or speak it anymore. Non-native English speakers find very limited opportunities to speak, read, write, and listen using their native language as they consistently use English in their everyday lives. 

Inconsistency in the learning process may result in a decrease in your language growth. This could possibly result in all your time and efforts being wasted. Being proficient in English requires you to practice it whenever you have the chance to. The lack of practice and social interaction can have an impact on your level of proficiency. 

Why should you carefully weigh the pros and cons of learning English?

Whether you’re someone with prior knowledge or a complete beginner, it is important to know the pros and cons before you dive into this time-consuming and challenging task. There is no such thing as an instant result in this matter. You need to set goals and think about the amount of time you can dedicate to learning. Even after reaching your first or latest goal, you do not stop. Set another goal and continue to find a reason to learn. There is always something new and interesting to learn. You have to treat learning English as a habit. This is an active and continuous process that needs dedication and consistent practice. 

In case you have decided to continue learning the English language, here are some quick tips that might help you. 

Expose yourself to the language.

Listen to trendy English pop songs, watch western tv series or movies, and read English novels from known contemporary authors (you may find the genre you like). Doing these activities will expose you to the conversational and non-conversational use of the English language. 

Find an ESL friend.

Find native speakers or team up with another learner. This way you could put into use the knowledge you have accumulated over the time of your learning. Engage in conversations and practice dialogues. You may also share and exchange learning materials with each other. 

Keep writing.

Whenever you encounter an unfamiliar word or a word you have heard before but not sure of its use, write them down. Apart from an easy access to a list of words you need to familiarize yourself with, it’s a great personalized dictionary suitable just for you. You may also add some examples or try constructing your own sentences with them. 

Try and try.

Committing a mistake is just as essential as exploring in the learning process. Do not be afraid or intimidated by committing a mistake. Think of it as an opportunity to learn some more. Stay motivated and maintain a positive energy. Include your mistakes on your list. Revise and know their proper use so you won’t make the same mistake again. Errors are not a negative reflection of your intellectual capacity but it is a necessary feature in acquiring a new skill. 

Pros and cons of learning English: JUST ENJOY THE PROCESS

Stay motivated and enjoy the process. Keep your confidence boosted as you explore the English language. It sure is not easy and natural to feel stressed, frustrated, or even disappointed and discouraged. Maintain a positive outlook because positive emotions are closely linked to how one will retain information in the learning process. Enjoying the process and being entertained actually makes the learning easier. 

Despite having pros and cons in learning English, it is upon you to decide on taking on the challenge of exploring this beautiful language.Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you have just been told and you just have to trust your own feelings and capabilities. But keep in mind that this skill will be a great help to you in your future endeavors. Just as many cons, there are also a lot of pros that will make the learning process worthy of your time and will sure make you feel fulfilled.  

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