In this 4.0 era, the demand for international communication has markedly increased, which leads lots of aspiring global citizens to pursue widely spoken languages, especially English. However, many potential problems may arise when it comes to choosing a language to learn: Will it benefit them in the future? How long will it take them to master the language, which is not their mother tongue? How can they juggle to find time for it? Among a variety of questions, “is English the hardest language to learn?” appears to generate the most interest.
So, is English the hardest language to learn? Well, the answer is a frank “no”, it is nowhere to be found in many different top 5, top 10, or top 20 ranks. However, the fact that mastering the language takes a lot of time and effort cannot be denied.
WHY IS ENGLISH A HARD LANGUAGE TO LEARN ?
According to surveys by Harvard University and Google in 2010, there are 1,022,000 words compared to several hundreds of thousands of words in most languages. However, English vocabulary would grow by several thousand each year, making it even more impressive. With an enormous amount of vocabulary, even native speakers find it challenging to learn these words. Besides, the way words are written is not uniform, as 26% is borrowed from Germany, and nearly 60% derives from Latin and French.
Good news for you: grammatical rules cause problems for even people from English-speaking countries! Here is the list of barriers to the mastery of grammar.
They are combinations of a verb and a preposition whose meaning can change by replacing one of them. For instance, with the verb “give”, we mean “quit” by “give up”, “produce heat, light, etc.” by “give off”, and “give something to a large number of people” by “give out”. However, the list does not stop there, and hundreds of verbs and prepositions are still waiting for learners to discover them.
Expressions whose meaning is different from that of individual words constituting them. The definition is enough to reflect on how unpredictable the indications of idioms can be. For example, “They painted the town red after their examinations” means “They enjoyed themselves very much after their examinations”. Of course, there are no similarities, but you have to accept it because English is weird. All languages have idioms, but the variety, together with the unpredictability of English idioms, makes it difficult for foreign language learners to acquire. So if you are a beginner or intermediate student, savor your last happy moments with a limited range of phrasal verbs and idioms to learn, as the next stage is going to be really daunting.
A language would not be interesting if it stuck to rigid rules, and of course, English is by no means boring. However, the exceptions in English are countless, which makes it much more “exciting” than necessary. They range from plural nouns and grammatical conjugation to the differences in the meaning of prefixes or suffixes. There can be many geese, whose singular noun is goose, but there can only be many moose (similar to its singular form), not meese. “He showed her the way to the bus stop” (“showed” is the past simple form of “show”), but the same does not apply to “grow”, which turned into “grew” if the action was done in the past.
English has such a baffling spelling system that it can easily frustrate even the most hard-working and intelligent learners. Take “dough”, “tough” and “bough” for a clear illustration. They are all made up of “ough” in combination with a letter at the beginning of the word, but the way they are pronounced varies.
All of the above factors adding up is enough to discourage any English learner, but there is no need to be worried because English does have some features that can make up for these oddities.
WHY IS ENGLISH EASIER THAN SOME CERTAIN LANGUAGES?
1.English is a gender-neutral language.
You do not have to bear in mind any rules as regards genders when you learn English. Unlike French, it does not specify whether a “table” is male or female (sounds weird, right?) and you can feel free to use any nouns without being afraid to make mistakes. One more thing, English has nouns that can be applied to both sexes when it comes to jobs. For instance, “police officers” can be understood as men or women, and there are also “policemen” and “policewomen”, of course, for personal preferences.
2.There are only two types of articles – Indefinite “a” or “an” and definite “the”
In comparison with French and Albanian, the English language is quite poor considering the articles system. However, this may benefit learners because there are fewer rules to remember. For those who still complain about the use of these articles, the only advice is that you should spend more time practicing it. Anything can be learned through practice.
3.Some words serve at least two functions
You can only learn one word and use them in many different contexts with different meanings. You “give an answer to a question”, or “answer a question”. You can “better your English” or “make your English better”, and many, many more words like above are yet to be discovered.
“Two sides of the same coins” is one of the very few idioms whose meaning can be judged by its words, and it refers to two ways of looking at the same situation. This idiom can be applied to English learning, and your attitude towards it will determine whether it is hard or easy to learn the language. Mastering anything seems to be a difficult task, but if you know some “hacks” and devote your time to it, you will soon be a specialist on the field. Thank you so much for reading, and do not forget to visit our website regularly to gather effective methods as well as small tips which can aid you a lot on your road to success.