Is English hard to learn? If you ask foreigners this question, they likely answer yes. However, the level of difficulty depends on how close is the relation between your language and the new language. If your language is pretty similar to the new one, it will make the process easier. Unfortunately, not all of us have native languages that are similar to English, making the process more difficult. For some of us, it is a lifetime process to learn English. So, if you want to know what makes the process more difficult, then let’s get down to the basic facts.
The Borrowed Words
Many of the English words are borrowed words from other languages, such as German, French, and Latin. The English words consist of 30% of Latin, 30% of French, and 26% of Germanic origin. That’s why French, Dutch, or German speakers may have an easier time learning English than speakers of Bengali, Urdu, or Arabic. Thanks to the similar native tongue to the new language that you are trying to learn, the process is more accessible. After all, there is a sense of familiarity that makes it more accessible.
What about those who are coming from countries not having the native languages with German or French roots? Well, they will have to get themselves used to the words. We aren’t about to discuss how you can memorize or remember those many words, but you need to come up with your learning system. If you can connect the new language words with your own, that’s great. But this is one of the reasons why foreigners think that learning English isn’t easy.
Let’s face it; spelling is probably the most confusing factor in learning English, right? You can teach an English learner about writing ‘a,’ but he is undoubtedly going to be confused about the changed pronunciation of father, hate, and hat – how the a would be different from one another. In the word oak, for example, the a isn’t even pronounced at all. When you have to compare such a thing with Spanish simplicity, the changes are even more confusing. In Spanish, the ‘a’ is often unchanged even when they are used in different words.
Spelling and pronunciation will be more confusing and somewhat absurd the more you dwell on the subject. Some letters may not be pronounced at all, such as p in the word receipt, s in the word island, k in the word knead or knife, b in a bomb (the last one), or l in half.
As if it weren’t enough, learners will have to deal with the confusing grammar too. Like in the past tense, most of the verbs have the addition of –ed. So, the pick becomes picked, shout becomes shouted, and walk becomes walked. But let’s not forget about the irregular verbs. A verb like a hit has a similar form of past tense with the present tense. Sleep becomes slept or thinks becomes thought. The word read has the same spelling between the present and past tense, but it has a different pronunciation.
If you think there is a pattern on this matter, there isn’t one. For instance, you probably believe that verbs with ‘ink’ ending would have -ought transformation, like think – thought. But what about wink becoming winked? Or drink becoming drank? So, is English hard to learn? To be honest, yes. It can be super confusing for those who just learn English – and not making them a part of their daily conversation.
When you are learning English, there are so many rules to use – it can be overwhelming. For instance, when you are trying to be polite, you may have to decide whether you want to use would or could. But then, there is always a specific thing that is different than the others. Saying ‘May I borrow this?’ seems more polite than ‘Can I borrow this?’ The latter one is more casual and used between speakers within the same age range or status. But in offering something like, ‘Would you like a tea?’ can’t be replaced with ‘May you want a tea?’ Again, there is a rule about using May as it only goes with me.
There are always exceptions in rules – and grammar only makes it more difficult. And let’s not forget that politeness is a rather complicated concept that requires you to explore more to the subject. So, is English hard to learn? The answer is yes!
The Confusing Phrasal Verb
There are daily phrasal verbs that are used for the normal situation, but they don’t mean a thing if you want to ponder carefully. When someone says, ‘Once the alarm goes off, it’s time for me to get up, take off the PJ, put my clothes on, and then set off to work.’ Sounds very logical and casual, right? But for English learners, the sentence ‘alarm goes off’ will make their head spin. Goes where? Why is it about getting up instead of stand up? Why you say put on but not put off – the same thing as why take off but not take on? And what does set off mean? Why not just using the word go?
The sentence above is just a small example of the complex system of the English language. Yes, the phrasal verbs are there, existing in the daily conversation. They make the language context somewhat more relaxed and not too rigid. You can always use the formal form, but that’s just weird. Most people are talking more casually with the phrasal verbs. But for those who aren’t familiar with it, it can be downright complex and complicated.
Learning a new language has never been easy, but there is no need to feel discouraged or hopeless. As long as you keep on practicing, you can always master it. Learning a language requires constant exposures and practice. If you stop, you lose the ability – you will forget it. So, if you want to master English, the best thing to do is to keep on practicing. Is English hard to learn? Yes, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t overcome the obstacle.