“Nothing in life that is of value comes easy" - George. M. Gill
Everyone has a different way of learning and everyone will experience different difficulties when learning English.
Unfortunately, some things are common to most people.
But being prepared and having strategies for the most common difficulties could be the key to mastering a new language.
Let's take a look at the 5 most common difficulties and my recommendations for overcoming them.
1. Difficulties with Learning English Grammar
Grammar is the "rules" of how we put all the words together. Learning English grammar can be challenging as there are so many exceptions to the rules, and native English speakers tend to be a little lazy with following them correctly!
Some of the most common problems include:
- Tenses - in some languages, tenses don't even exist.
- Some words can have many meanings, eg. fair.
- The correct use of articles (the, a/an..)
- Correct use of phrasal verbs (look up to, put away...)
And this doesn't even include the use of idioms and collocations...... the list goes on....
To overcome these difficulties, you need to be observant. Pay attention when you are reading and listening to native/fluent English speakers. Increase your reading or include podcasts/movies to your daily routine.
2. Translating Everything to Your Native Language
To really see improvement in learning English, you need to transition from translating back into your native language to thinking in English.
A classroom environment is great for encouraging this. You don't have time to translate everything if you want to keep up. And like any muscle in your body, the more you work at it, the easier it gets.
Also, rather than translating words back into your native language to understand them, try focussing on guessing their meaning from the context. Translating word-by-word gives a very poor outcome anyway, as meanings can be subtly different in different languages.
3. If you are learning with a teacher, try not to depend on them too much.
This one is hard, I get it. It's nice to know someone is there, helping you when you need it. But your teacher is only ONE of so many resources available to you, and in the end, they won't be there at all.
As adults, we control our learning. We decide what works for us the best, and what we enjoy the most. The teacher should be a guide, but don't get stuck in looking to your teacher for support and confidence - get out and try on your own!
4. You don't have many places to practice your English
Practice makes perfect. There's no other way to master a craft.
But if you find it overwhelming and intimidating to speak to native speakers, then how do you do this? A good way to start is to find a positive learning environment for you, a group class that meets your needs and is a safe place to explore the language. If a class isn't making you feel more confident, it probably isn't right for you!
5. You have forgotten a lot of what you learned before
Again, practise makes perfect. There's no getting around it.
If you don't keep using your English, you will lose it.
The more you make use of a language, the deeper it will be buried in your mind. Reading books and listening to podcasts have helped a lot of students. And if you are in a group class setting, you can always reach out to the other members to see if they would like a weekly Zoom catch-up over coffee for an hour to keep practicing English together! They are also facing the same issues!
There are many more difficulties that people face on the language learning journey. But this is my top-5 list from my experience learning and teaching language.
Ultimately, the experience needs to be supportive, relevant, and enjoyable to make the most of the opportunity.
If you are looking for a great group class to join, then consider our classes. We have a great group currently that meets every Saturday at 2.30pm (GMT +8). The members are from a diverse range of jobs within the minerals industry and the lessons are productive and a lot of fun! The levels of ability are quite varied (lower intermediate-advanced), and this adds a great dynamic to the whole group.
Take a look at some of the topics we have covered so far...