Why English is hard to learn?
There are many reasons why English is hard to learn. One reason is that there are so many rules which can seem arbitrary and confusing.
For example, in English we say “I am” but “he is” even though the subject and verb agree in number (i.e., they should both be “I” or both “he”).
Additionally, there are many irregular verbs which do not follow any rules at all (“blow”, “blew”, “blown”).
Another reason why English is hard to learn is that it has a lot of vocabulary words which don’t have equivalents in other languages.
For example, the word “abstract” does not have a direct translation into most other languages.
Additionally, English has words which are spelled the same but have different meanings depending on whether they are used as a verb or a noun (e.g., “read” and “reader”).
Despite these challenges, English is still one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. This is because it has a lot of advantages which make it worth learning.
For example, English is the language of business and commerce, and this is why it can be very useful for people who want to work or do business internationally.
Additionally, English is the language of science and technology, so learning it can be helpful for students who want to pursue careers in these fields.
Finally, English is also widely used in popular culture, including music, movies, and television shows.
This means that people who learn English have access to a lot of interesting and enjoyable content, despite its hard difficulty.
But if English is such an in-demand language, what puts so many people off learning it? Why is English hard to learn? Many asks this question….so
What is it about English that makes it particularly hard to learn? Before we learn the answers to these questions, we must first examine English’ origins and evolution.
Why English’s mongrel origins make it Englis hard to learn
The more we learn about English’s origins the more we understand why it is so hard to learn for non-native speakers. It truly is a mongrel language with multiple parent languages that share little mutual intelligibility.
English is a West Germanic language and came into being between the 5th and 11th centuries. Its development was influenced by three main sources: Old English (which developed after the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain in AD 449), Latin, which had been used for religious purposes since at least six hundred; and Celtic, which had been spoken in the British Isles before this.
Over time English became a increasingly distinct language from its West Germanic relatives, such as Dutch, Frisian (spoken on parts of Germany’s North Sea coast) and Low German or Plautdietsch (which is still widely used by the Dutch-speaking Mennonites of northern Mexico).
English began to emerge as an independent language during the Middle English period (11th to 15th centuries), which saw many changes in its grammar and pronunciation.
Yet, while English became less influenced by other West Germanic languages such as Old Frisian, English remained heavily influenced by Latin, which was particularly evident in the development of its vocabulary. This a base to ask ourself why English is hard to learn?
This can be seen today with many words that are based on or have evolved from Latin roots such as “president” (presidere), “photography” (“photo-graphy”), and even “English.” (The word “English” derives from the Old English term Englisc, which is itself derived from a Germanic root meaning “outside.”
This was used to describe people living outside of Germany.)
While Latin remained a major source for unfamiliar words into Middle English and beyond, it wasn’t until after the Norman Conquest of 1066 that another major source came into play.
For the next three centuries, English was a minority tongue spoken by Norman rulers and occupiers whose native language became Anglo-Norman French (which later developed into modern standard French).
This had an enormous impact on how people spoke in England at this time as well as on the development of its vocabulary. English absorbed many French words, especially those relating to government and administration, such as “court” (car), “crime” (“crimen”), and “judge.”
Another important influence on the language was Old Norse or Scandinavian which began arriving in England within the ninth century Viking raids and incursions, adding another layer to find why English is hard to learn and the English’s already had difficulty of mastering the language.
Old Norse became a major source of new vocabulary in English, particularly words referring to ships, navigation and commerce, such as “anchor” (‘ankr), “chief,” (“hǫfðingi”) or perhaps “skirt” (“skyrta”).
Finally, a noteworthy influence on English came from the languages of France and Latin Europe during the center Ages.
Many French words entered into English at this point with more arriving later when England had become one of Britain’s most important trading partners in terms of imports/exports.
Many of these words relate to the aristocracy and opulence, like “dinner” (French “dejeuner” meaning breakfast), “lounge,” (“salon”) or even “champagne” (“shampooing”).
While English had emerged from a number of sources, it was not until the 17th century that English began to be recognized as a distinct language from French.
Another reason for concluding why is English is hard to learn is when we see its spelling system which had been based on Norman-French orthography (the way words are written down) for many years, but then gradually evolved into what we know today by the 18th century.
The main difference is that while French spelling was largely phonetic (i.e., words were written as they sounded), English in the 17th and early-18th centuries had a much looser system where one word could have multiple spellings based on different pronunciations with no standardization.
This was often the case even for words that shared the same pronunciation. For example, it is possible to spell “dance” as “dense” and “Danz,” while there were many other variations like this between different books or manuscripts at this time (the Oxford English Dictionary has over 8,000 of these).
During the 16th and 17th centuries other changes were also occurring in English. One was the development of a standard written form that could be understood throughout England, which had previously been problematic due to differences between dialects (such as those found in London vs. Newcastle).
Another change related more to pronunciation, with the “Great Vowel Shift” (1450-1800) which saw long vowels change their sound.
For example, words like “bite” and “beat,” had a short vowel in Middle English, but now have a longer one while those such as “boater”, or home” (which used to have a short vowel) now have long vowels.
While English had begun its development as an independent language, the arrival of settlers in North America during the 17th and 18th centuries would lead it towards globalization with increasing use worldwide today.
While there are many reasons for this expansion since then, including the rise of English as a lingua franca (or common language between groups), one factor remains clear: its power in commerce and trade.
Despite being so hard, there is little questioning why English was clearly the language to learn back then too.
Is learning English worth it, or no because English is hard to learn?
There are many reasons why it makes sense to learn English today rather than other languages, despite its alleged hard difficulty, even though there may be advantages or disadvantages depending on where you come from and who you are.
For example, if your native language is English or one of the many languages which borrow heavily from it such as American and Australian varieties of English (due to their common Anglo-Saxon roots), then there may be less incentive for learning other hard European tongues that do not have significant use in business beyond their borders.
This is one reason why native English speakers are stereotypically lazy about learning other languages.
On the other hand, if you live in a country where English is not widely spoken or understood, but your native tongue has historical ties to it such as Greek (which developed from ancient Indo-European languages), then there may be more reason for learning this hard language despite its global dominance today.
English’s origins and history suggest that it is a language which will continue to be in great demand worldwide for many years to come.
This makes learning it an attractive option, even though English can present numerous challenges given its hard grammar rules and the considerable number of words with differing pronunciations depending on their use as nouns or verbs.
Given the pressure to learn English in commerce and trade as well as its increasing use in popular culture, it is also likely to remain a global language for many decades ahead despite any potentially hard challenges that may arise regarding artificial intelligence (AI) technology replacing human jobs such as translators/interpreters or even some lawyers or accountants in the future.
Concluding thoughts on learning English, and finding Why English is hard to learn?
As English continues to be a particularly important global language, it is inevitable that more people will want to learn and use English as their preferred second tongue, or a third one if they are already fluent in their native tongues (e.g., German speakers learning Chinese).
This is often because learning English will allow them to connect more easily with others and have access to a wider range of interesting content than they may otherwise.
While there are many reasons why English can be challenging for college students, these challenges pale in comparison with the advantages for those who learn the English language today.