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Challenges of Learning English as a Second Language

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CHALLENGES OF LEARNING ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE

BY: ANKITA SHARMA, VIDHYARTHI DARPAN

Introduction

Learning a foreign language has innumerable benefits. From giving you an upper hand in society to sharpened memory, from the self-satisfaction of adding a unique quality in your resume to increased cognitive and analytical ability, it empowers you to meet & communicate with people of diverse culture and navigate through world tour freely and confidently.

English is undoubtedly the most spoken and first approached language in India and abroad, owing to its popularity and universality. 

Currently, about 1.2 billion (14%) of the world population uses English as the main source of communication. The US and the UK lead with most English speakers. Can you guess how many of them are non-native English speakers? It is a whopping 743 million as opposed to merely 378 million native speakers!

Evidently, English is the most spoken language in India.

Is English Necessary?

But why learn English among thousands of other languages? 

English speakers are the most sought after by employers as it is a commonly used mode of communication worldwide. It is a language of academicians and businesses involving projects, researches, and whatnot. Knowledge of English enhances your career prospects as well as your employability quotient.

However, everything comes with its set of challenges. In India, English is taught as a subject rather than a discrete language. Thus, the pupils do not invest much time learning it. As for non-native speakers, translation, elocution, and interpretation from their well-known mother language become a task.

To understand the problems and elucidate solutions, one needs to understand in-depth about them. Below are some of the common difficulties people face while learning English as a secondary language.

List of Challenges of Learning English as Second Language

  • Lack of Qualified Educators

As for any learning course, a tutor is a necessity. A well-qualified, experienced teacher who appreciates the significance of the English language and is willing to assist his pupils in the learning process is a must for those who find it tough to learn on their own. The problem lies in the lack of such tutors. Besides, there are many barriers to locating proficient English teachers. Memorization without understanding is one of the reasons why graduates suffer in the future. It arises due to the faulty guidance of the teacher.

  • Loss of Interest

The practice of speaking English only lasts till each session does. Uninterested students tend to skip classes or not pay attention to the teacher’s instructions. Some students deliberately do not make efforts to learn English and consequently lag in the curriculum (score low in examinations). A learning attitude is necessary, mostly not observed in students who are only acquainted with one language since birth.

  • Fear of Judgment

More often than not, many people don’t leave their comfort zone because of societal prejudices. They feel shy and skeptical about educating themselves with a foreign language. Thus, give the least importance to it.

  • Frequent Switching to Native Language

Exposure to only one type of language in the initial period of your life leads to attachment to it – both emotionally and academically. It creates a hindrance in absorbing new information and prompt people to give in to the temptation to use the native language. Teachers should be observant when such alteration happens and correct them frequently. They should encourage students to communicate in English as much as possible.

  • Getting Hold on 4 Pillars of English Language

You can master the English language by gaining command over the four factors: Spelling, the pronunciation of terms, understanding grammar, and building vocabulary. Not just verbal but written proficiency is also vital in learning any language. Since meanings and interpretation of words differ in different circumstances, students need to dive extensively into basics to differentiate between them. 

There are many dimensions to English such as correct usage of verb forms, adjectives, the pronunciation of the same word in a varying situation, sentence formation based on expression, tenses with right punctuations and pauses, etc. These complexities frighten the learners.

How Can You Learn English Easily?

Below are some of the actionable ways one can adopt to make the learning process fun and productive:

  • Constant practice

Regular practice is the key. Spoken and written English can only be mastered by completely absorbing it into the daily routine. By carefully working on speech formation & delivery and oratory skills, one can avoid errors.

  • Helpful Colleagues

Working with fellow aspirants is delightful. You will be in a suitable environment surrounded by people with a common goal. Through collaborative learning, such as holding conversations, correcting errors, and sentence construction, you obtain insights into your pace and understanding of the language. It is always fun learning and growing together.

  • Teach and Learn

The best way to learn is to teach! It may seem ridiculous at first to explain and make anyone understand when you are an amateur too. But it gives you a clearer perspective on how to identify and rectify mistakes. Furthermore, it provides an appropriate environment to learn English effectively.

  • Self-Motivation

There will be a compulsion to use the native language now and then. Don’t give in and stay focused on your end goal. Being self-motivated is the key to gain command over the language. English is simple for people who make deliberate and reactive efforts to learn it. Get out of your comfort zone.

  • Watch Movies/Series with Subtitles

Jump on the couch and switch on the TV. Find the English movie channel and watch it. Try to read the subtitles along with listening to the tone and pronunciation of the speaker. If you can, pause at some point and mumble the words and spelling of compound phrases. It helps get some idea about intensity, tone, break, ups & downs of the language.

Conclusion

Learning any foreign language, be it the commonest among a majority, can be a tedious task for non-native speakers. It demands utmost focus and dedication and lots & lots of practice. English language not only comprises of extensive grammar rules but a cluster of spellings and pronunciations as well. With regular exercise – both verbal and non-verbal – and sheer commitment, one can achieve the goal of mastering the English language.

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