Why is English so hard to learn?!

The Difficulty of Learning to Speak English

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn, especially compared to many of the Romance languages like Spanish and French. But why is this, and why is it so important that language teaching organizations have the right software tools to provide to their students?

The Origins of English as a Language

One of the big reasons why English is so tricky to learn as a language is because of its origin. In fact, English doesn’t just come from England.

Specifically, English is a West Germanic language that came from a mixture of Anglo-Saxon dialects, Latin words and dialects, and even dialects from southern Denmark and the Netherlands. The resulting hodgepodge of words and grammar rules has resulted in one of the most commonly spoken but tough to parse languages in the world.

Tough Aspects of Spoken English

There’s no denying that English has a lot of tough elements that can make it difficult to grasp for new speakers, even with top English pronunciation software helping them get things right.

Structure and Grammar

The grammar of the language can be thought of as the “skeleton” or “logic” of the language. But English has a particular grammatical style that’s different from any other language in the world.

For example, English has special rules about what adjectives and adverbs come in what order. In a typical English sentence like, “the big red car”, “big” comes before “red” for whatever reason. Try saying “the red big car” and a native English speaker will look at you oddly.

Even speakers of Latin languages can easily get confused by English’s grammar quirks. For instance, in Spanish, adjectives come after the noun in many cases, whereas it’s the reverse in English. This makes it tough to remember English’s grammatical rules for second language speakers.

Sounds and Phonemes in Verbal Communication

Additionally, many English sounds or phonemes are difficult to pronounce, especially when a student looks at how a word is spelled compared to how it is spoken.

Things get even more complicated when you add in homonyms: words that are spelled differently but sound exactly the same. For example, “bough” and “bow” sound precisely the same but mean very different things! Except, of course, when “bow” is used to refer to a movement instead of an archery tool!

Speaking is crucial to effective communication and automated, English pronunciation assessment software can significantly boost someone’s ability to speak English correctly, even if they’re still learning the grammar and other rules of the language.

Inconsistencies and Odd Rules

We also can’t forget that English is full of strange contradictions and weird rules. This applies to both grammatical concepts and specific words.

For instance, the past tense of teaching is “taught”. But the past tense of preaching is “preached” instead of “praught” which isn’t a word in English. There are plenty of other examples as well, including:

  • Beef, instead of ham, is used in a hamburger
  • To overlook means to miss something, while to oversee means to monitor something, even though both look and see mean the same thing

For another example that English students are taught, consider this: “I before E except after C”. But this rule isn’t always followed. For instance, take the word “science”, in which “I” still comes before “E” even though both letters are after “C”.

Therefore, anyone learning how to speak English fluently must not only learn the rules; they must also learn the exceptions to the rules and memorize them as unique language artifacts. 

Improve Spoken English with AI Pronunciation Tools

Bespoke speech recognition software like Language Confidence is the best way to accelerate the English language learning process for both big companies and individual students alike. This is particularly prevalent for students learning to speak English online. Utilising an AI-powered, speech recognition specifically for learning is a simple way for organizations to scale learning for their students, enabling them to further help their customers or clients learn English for their careers, education, or personal pleasure. If you think this might be useful to your organization, try our pronunciation API demo, to see first hand how Language Confidence could work for you.

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