In this day and age, it is not a bad idea to learn a second language. And for many, English is a smart choice; after all, it is the language of international business.

Oddly enough, though, while English is one of the most commonly spoken “second” languages, it is still one of the most difficult Robotel language lab languages to learn.  About 500 million people speak English as a second language, and each of these people has probably encountered at least one—and probably more—of these problems that native speakers probably didn’t even realize existed.

Indeed, if you grew up speaking English as your native tongue, thank your lucky stars that you don’t have to learn these common challenges associated with learning English.

GRAMMAR

To put it simply: English grammar is complex.  In some languages, grammar is very simple, but in English, sentence structure, verb conjugation, syntax, and the many other grammar variables can often seem illogical. The rules—and all the appropriate exceptions and variations—can be hard to memorize.

VOCABULARY

After grammar, many non-native speakers come to recognize that English words, on their own, can be quite difficult.  This has a lot to do with the fact that while English has Germanic roots, it takes a lot from the Romance languages, too.  Verb conjugations are not as intuitive as in other languages while verb tense can get to be pretty complicated.  Add to that all the regional slangs and dialects, cognates, generational mutations, and other word variations and it is quite easy to see why “English” has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world.

SLANG

Speaking of “slangs,” the English language is difficult to learn not just because of the shortcuts in vocabulary but also in the “turns of phrase” we use.  Colloquialisms—words, phrases, and sentences used locally or regionally, in a “familiar” way—easily make English confusing. Consider the various versions of English spoken throughout different parts of England compared to the variations of English spoken throughout the United States: the differences can be both subtle and dramatic (and it is all still considered “English”).

PRONUNCIATION

Learning English is hard, too, because of the various ways we form phonetics.  We have silent letters and letter combinations whose sounds, for example, change from word to word.  Consider, for example, the difference between “know” and “kite” and the difference between “cough” and “dough”.