A lot of people struggle when they decide to study English. In fact, even when they’re done studying and they utilize the skills they’ve learned, they still commit errors in some areas of the language. Though it can be a lot of fun learning a new language, the English language is not as easy and simple as you think. Many Filipinos, and all those who are still learning English as a second language (ESL), find it extremely frustrating when learning English. To help you understand the language better, and have a better chance at improving your English, here are ten reasons why English is such a pain in the neck, sometimes.
- The order of the words (Subject – Predicate/Verb)
Many other languages have their own order of words and do not follow the standard structure the English language follows. The English language follows the Subject – Verb Agreement whereas the subject of a sentence is followed by the action it is performing. For example, The boy eats fruits. In this sentence, the boy is the subject and eats is his verb. Many languages like Filipino (Tagalog), the language of the Philippines, do not follow this format; the verb is usually followed by the subject. People who speak languages which do not follow the subject-verb or subject-predicate structure will really have a hard time learning and adjusting when they learn English.
- Homophones. Words sound the same but are completely different
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meaning and sometimes, spelling. There are many homophones in the English vocabulary and almost all can be used in the same sentence. People trying to learn English may have a hard time when they come across these kinds of words. A bandage is wound around a wound, is an example of homophones. The first wound is pronounced as wowned and its past tense is wind. The second is woond, which is an injury.
There are many idiomatic expressions in the English language, and using them add color and depth to your writing or piece of literature. As a very old language, people have developed phrases and words that mean something else. You must read between the lines is an example of an idiomatic expression. What this means is that you should understand something more than the words themselves, that it has some deeper meaning rather than what you see. Practice and be familiar with idioms and witness your transition from a normal, average speaker to an eloquent Shakespearean public speaker.
- Word connectors
Prepositions and conjunctions are the word connectors in English grammar. There are rules which are somewhat different from other languages in usage. Prepositions on, at, and in are all different and are used differently depending on what type your objects are, which makes it hard to know which ones to use when learning the language. For example, do we say, “I am visiting my friend at the hospital or in the hospital?” There are so many prepositions in the English language, but in Filipino, we usually use only one, sa, and we say sa dulo, sa tabi, sa ilalim, and so on. In English, we could say, at the end, in the end, by the end, on the side, at the side, under, underneath, and so on. When it comes to conjunctions, there are the coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, and that is another problem all together.
- Synonyms are not always synonyms
We were all taught that there are words which have the same or close to that meaning and are called synonyms. From then on, we knew that we can interchange certain words in order to avoid redundancy and dullness. But did you know that synonyms are not always interchangeable? Some of them may have meanings that are almost the same but they still aren’t interchangeable. Let us use ride a bike as an example. Ride has synonyms; move, proceed, travel are a few of its synonyms. Would people understand if you told them to “proceed a bike?” Would that be the same as ride a bike?
- Emphasis (different meanings)Emphasis is relevant in both written and stated English. Including stress in a sentence can strongly emphasize what you really mean to say. But putting emphasis on different parts of the sentence can change its meaning, completely. For example, let’s look at the sentence, I gave her flowers.I gave her flowers – no emphasis, plain sentence.I gave her flowers – this means that you were the one who gave her flowers, no other person gave her flowers.
I gave her flowers – emphasis implies that you gave her flowers, did nothing more.
I gave her flowers – flowers were given to her, and not to anyone else.
I gave her flowers – flowers were the thing that were given, not any other thing.Putting emphasis or stress on certain words changes the intonation of the sentence, and it can completely change the meaning of a sentence, so be sure to study it well and to use stress and emphasis properly.
- Spelling and Pronunciation
English has a wide range of vocabulary from A-Z, but how accurate is the spelling relative to its pronunciation? There are certain words in English that do not quite sound the way they look. Rendezvous which is pronounced as rahndahvuh is one of its many words because it has a French origin. Many English words have an etymology, which means they come from different languages and cultures. The spelling can be a bit of a problem but practice and a handy dictionary can guide you accordingly.
- Borrowed words
There are a lot of borrowed words in the English language and some may confuse you whether it is an English word or not, which might be a problem if you are studying because you will not be able to incorporate it well in a sentence. An example is the word sushi, which was only welcomed in English in the late 1890’s and is obviously from the Japanese.
- Culture, the environment, and lack of practice
If you live in the United States, UK, Canada, or Australia, you will definitely have a lot of practice. Learning the English language can become more efficient when you have the right environment, especially when everyone around you is speaking English. Not everyone, however, has the luxury of traveling to other countries to improve their English and communication skills. Many Koreans and other foreigners actually travel to the Philippines to improve their English. Filipinos, however, do not travel to the US to learn English, and they must do with what they have here in the Philippines. Sometimes, it becomes even more difficult when other Filipinos mock others who are using or trying to practice the language. As a result, many Filipinos are afraid to practice their English in public, and they end up not improving or not speaking very well even when they have finished college.
- Education system and English school
Most Filipinos have studied English in their elementary, high school, and even college days. However, many believe that the quality of education, in terms of English subject, was not satisfactory. Yes, there are several schools in the Philippines that are very good when it comes to teaching and learning English, but in many schools, students found their classes boring, while some found their teachers incompetent. There are also many English schools in the Philippines, but many just don’t seem to provide the kind of learning that students should be experiencing. One of the best English schools in the Philippines is the American Institute for English Proficiency, which has branches in Makati and Quezon City. They are very popular because they provide a progressive, non-traditional style when it comes to learning English.
Don’t get frustrated. When learning the English language, patience is a virtue. To our students at The American Institute, learning English has become a ve
ry fun experience. They enjoy the different modules and love how they interact with their classmates and Specialists. The right atmosphere can truly help when it comes to learning, speaking, and thinking in English very well.
English is definitely a hard language, and thus it is an art. And once you master it, it will empower you to do many many things, as it is the international language. Your confidence will soar, your career will grow, and your opportunities will definitely expand. Despite these many challenges in English, there are so many more reasons why you should study English. Happy studying!