Monday, July 27, 2015

5 Myths About Learning English

You know how I feel about languages, especially when it comes to being able to communicate with other cultures and connecting with others. 

As the world becomes ever more connected, learning a second language can be a wonderful way to gain academic and career advantages. For non-native speakers of English, the influence that English-speaking countries have on global markets can make it an easy and logical decision to learn the language.

So of course, when I found David White's 5 Myths About Learning English, I felt that it was necessary to share:

When it comes to learning a second tongue, the ease with which you become fluent depends on a number of different, often subjective factors. Nevertheless, because English is a fairly nuanced and idiomatic language, non-native speakers may feel intimidated. These feelings can easily become exacerbated when you start to consider all the myths about how difficult it is to learn English. If you are a non-native speaker, and if you are attempting to gain some mastery of the English language, debunking the following five myths should help you feel more comfortable and confident in your endeavor.

1. English is one of the most difficult languages to learn

Many people believe that English is an incredibly difficult language to learn. While it is true that English relies on elements that may be unfamiliar to some non-native speakers, it is not as challenging as it may at first appear to be.

When compared to certain other languages, English has relatively few inflections, which accordingly limits the ways that words can be used. For example, most nouns are used in the singular or plural, while verbs are generally used in the past, present, or future tense.

2. Pronunciation does not matter

Some people mistakenly believe that learning from a book is sufficient because what truly matters is learning the words and their meanings. This is incorrect. Whether you are mastering English, French, or Arabic, pronunciation always matters. There are many words in the English language that have similar spellings but different pronunciations and meanings – sometimes very different meanings. As with any language, in order to use it properly, you need to know how to pronounce its terms.

One of the best ways to learn pronunciation is to watch and listen to native speakers. When you do so, pay close attention to how they form sounds and words.

3. The only way to learn a language is through immersion and exclusive use

It is true that immersion programs and the exclusive use of a particular language are great ways to become comfortable with that tongue, but they are by no means the only ways.

Speaking in any language helps us to develop confidence and cognitive abilities, and to grow as critical thinkers. However, our first language is one of our strongest connections to our cultures, and it can help us bond with others. It is important to spend as much time as possible on studying and practicing your new language, but never at the expense of your first language. This can lead to frustration and feelings of isolation.

4. English is best learned when you are young

It is common for people to assume that English is best learned when the non-native speaker is young. This is not an unreasonable assumption, but it is untrue. Children do tend to master languages more quickly than adults, but adults can learn them too.

The expectations for young language learners tend to be much lower than those for adults, and the content being learned is usually more basic than for learners at a higher grade. In addition, children tend to have much more time to devote to learning than older students do.

5. Conversation leads to mastery

One of the many reasons that a student might want to learn a new language is so that he or she can use it in a conversational context. Perhaps because of this, many people assume that once one is able to engage in conversation with a native speaker, they have achieved a certain level of mastery. While conversational use of any second tongue is one of the more difficult tests, it does not necessarily indicate mastery.

Most languages, particularly American English, have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies that can make one conversation seem flawless and another messy and confusing. If you find that you are having trouble with conversational English, the problem might be that the native speaker is using regional phrases or sayings, or that their pronunciation might be heavily affected by an accent. Rather than despairing, persevere with your language studies.



Welcome to English at LERNFORUM Chur.  We teach English one to one or in small, personalised groups at every level and for every English language need. Cambridge and Swiss qualified, we're mother-language speaking, and most importantly, have a passion for helping you speak English.

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