This is a guest post by Christina Appleworth.
The English language can be very difficult to learn for non native speakers. While widely spoken, the difficulties of English derive from the differences on terms of syllable structure and spoken against written forms of the language. New language speakers can also struggle to adjust to the complexities of English grammar, and to the range of different forms of slang and idioms that they may be presented with on a daily basis. When trying to understand and learn the complexities of the English language, it is therefore important to try to focus on an intersection of reading, writing, speaking and overall learning through practice.
English can be an unusual language for speakers not used to the Roman alphabet, or to the differences between particular sounds. Non native speakers often have difficulties with consonants like b and v, and can also find it difficult to adjust to the complex syllable structure used within the language. These differences can be very subtle, and can take a lot of time to learn to a fluent level.
There are a number of different tenses within English that, while similar to other European languages, do not always follow hard and fast rules. The same learning problems apply to modal and phrasal verbs, which ideally need to be learnt through specific contexts and examples, rather than by rote. Prepositions are similarly difficult to master, and require long-term practice and immersion within the language as it is spoken and written on a day-to-day basis.
Slang and Idioms
New English speakers can find it difficult to adjust to the wide range of idioms that exist within the language, and especially when they are not immediately obvious. Difficulties with zero articles are particularly common. Varying types of slang and dialect between different regions are also problematic, in the sense that it is both difficult to understand the language as spoken, and to pin down the context of particular words.
Reading and Speaking Connections
One of the best approaches to getting to grips with the English language in all its complexities is to focus on mastering both writing, reading and speaking as discreet, but also overlapping forms. Many people learning English can write to a reasonable standard, but will need to focus much more on the differences in grammar, idiom, and slang that appear in spoken conversation. Looking at how a written piece will differ in conversation is therefore important, but should always begin from a strong focus on reading.
Putting Into Practice
Putting the English language into practice generally involves focusing on this intersection of mastering the language on the page, and by entering into social contexts and interactions with native speakers that will put these rules into a more informal meaning. Indefinite and definite article problems can be particularly helped by taking this immersive approach, and by focusing on varied learning methods and forms of practice. Ultimately, the best way to move from a frustration with the complexities of English to comfort with its form is to take this step of going from the classroom to testing it out in a social situation. However, it is also crucial to get to this stage by mastering reading and the rules of English before moving on to more complex contexts.
Writing on behalf of SNT International College Christina Appleworth reviews some of the complexities of the English language. SNT College specialise in English language courses to students of all levels.