With approximately 380 million native English speakers, the English language is a highly viable and useful language to master. Many opt to learn the language to better their career prospects or to communicate in a more efficient way with others. Learning any new activity, be it driving a car, cooking, or a new language, comes with its own set of challenges. Learning a new language is tricky and the English language is not an exception. However, there are some challenges exclusive to the English language that new learners may face and should be prepared for:
English Grammar is complex and has different variations, such as the past, present and future tenses. There are added variations in these principle tenses, as well as adding to a whopping amount of grammar rules in order to learn and master the language. Grammatical errors may change the derivative and context of your statement and hence, any such mistakes should be avoided. In very simple words, if you tell someone “I ate” instead of “I will eat” he/she will misunderstand that you have already eaten and not offer you any food!
Those who have learned English as their first language have heard, spoken and studied the rules since they were mere toddlers. However, starting the learning process from an older age is challenging and may take time, patience and a lot of dedication on your part.
The best way to overcome the grammar challenge is by reading books/newspapers or watching English shows and movies. Exposing yourself more to the English language will ensure that the right grammar becomes second nature to you. The aim is to speak grammatically correct without having to make a conscious effort to remember the tenses and other grammar rules.
- Written verses spoken English
For native English speakers, knowing how to pronounce written words is second nature. However, to someone just getting the hang of the language, there may be many differences in spoken verses written English. Elephant is read as “Elefant”. The “K” in Knight is silent. The letter “C” is pronounced as an ‘S’ sometimes and as a K in other times. For instance, ‘cat’ verses ‘cylinder’. The list is never ending and only those who go through these challenges can express how confusing it is to write and read the same word differently.
For an easy way to master your written verses in spoken English, watch movies and shows with subtitles. Pay close attention to the subtitles and try to spot the right way to pronounce and spell different words.
- Fast speakers
When one is in a classroom setting, teachers are usually cautious by speaking slowly and enunciating the vowels for the benefit of the students. However, in the real world, native English speakers talk very fast and slur together 2-3 words. This fast paced speaking is very hard for new learners to comprehend and reply to at the same speed.
If you are not able to understand fully what the other person is saying, do not get confused. Just try to capture the key words and the actual essence of what the other person is saying. Also, watching rapidly spoken TV shows such as Scrubs can really help you to counter this challenge.
- Colloquialism and slang
The English language is full of slang words that are actually not part of the language. However, the slang words are spoken so much by English speakers that they might as well be included in the Oxford dictionary. Words like ‘hang out’, ‘creep’, ‘lighten-up’, etc. are so commonly used that one may not believe they are actually slang words!
Moreover, there are also informal and formal words in the English speech. For instance, kid is an informal way to refer to children; the latter being a more formal word.
Slang and informal words are acceptable in a casual to semi-formal setting; so, knowing them is no harm. However, not using them in a formal setting like in meetings or during presentations is the real challenge. For this, try to read the newspaper every day or watch more formal talk shows to get the hang of it.
The English language comes with a vast vocabulary and every word can have multiple synonyms. Just the word big can be defined as large, huge, colossal, gigantic, vast, immense, massive, etc. With so many words with the same meaning; a new English learner can get confused on coming across a difficult word which otherwise has a simple meaning.
The best way to enhance your English vocabulary is to read, read, and read! Reading will help enhance your vocabulary by leaps and bounds.
As mentioned previously, learning any new skill is tricky and comes with its own set of challenges. However, for learning anything new such as the English language, your mantra should be ‘practice makes perfect!’
Keep practicing your written and spoken English through different sources, and pretty soon, you will speak like a native English speaker!.