14 Reasons Why Learning English Is Hard

English is the world’s most commonly spoken language and also the language that’s learned by most people (1.5 Billion).

However, for some, learning English can be particularly challenging.

The truth is, there are many reasons why English Is the hardest language to learn.

[hide]4 Factors that Contribute to Difficulties in Learning the English Language19 Reasons Why English is the Hardest Language to Learn

4 Factors that Contribute to Difficulties in Learning the English Language

As you know, the English language is very diverse.

The rules of the language are not the same everywhere.

And even in the same place, there are many different accents and pronunciations.

It is not easy to understand someone who speaks in another way from you.

For example, let’s say that you are a native speaker of English.

You might think that you know all the rules of the language.

The truth is that you have only a tiny part of the rules of the language.

You might think that you will understand everyone, but you will be surprised that some people speak differently from you.

Many factors contribute to the difficulties of learning English.

These factors include your native language, your exposure to the English language, the consistency or inconsistency of how you speak and learn, the methods you use to understand, your cultural background, and so on.

These factors can be related to each other, and they can also be different from one another.

To better understand why English is the hardest language to learn, let’s look at these factors in more detail.

1. Your Native Language

It is said that the most crucial factor in learning a language is your native language.

For example, if you speak French, it can be challenging for you to learn English because the rules of the French language are different from those of English.

Your native language is the one that you use every day.

It is the language that you use to communicate with other people around you.

Your native language is also the one that you think in, and it is the one you can use to express yourself.

Now, when you are learning English, you are learning a different language.

Your brain must understand the rules of the English language, and it must get used to the new language to be able to use them to express yourself.

But your brain is used to the rules of your native language, and it is not easy to change that.

It means that it is very difficult for you to learn English.

2. Less Exposure to the English Language

Another that contributes to the difficulties of learning English is your exposure to the English language.

The more you have heard and spoken English, the easier it will be to learn it.

For example, if you have lived in the United States for a long time, you will slowly, surely learn the accent and pronunciation of American English.

And if you have lived in England for a long time, you will also learn the accent and pronunciation of British English.

But if you have only lived in the United States for a short time, you will not have much exposure to American English, and vice versa.

Even if you have some exposure to both dialects, you may still find it difficult to understand their differences.

Less exposure to the English language also means that you will not have many opportunities to practice and learn the English language.

If you do not use the English language often, you will not remember all the language rules as fast as you use them every day.

If you do not use, hear, and expose yourself to the English language often, it will be a slow and difficult process to learn all the necessary rules and variations of the language.

2. Inconsistency in Learning 

Consistency is the key to learning a language.

Just like how you need to be consistent in learning and doing anything, you also need to learn English.

Making a habit of learning the English language is very important.

The problem is that most people do not have the same learning habits.

They can be very inconsistent in learning, making it difficult for your brain to get the exposure to learn the language.

And the more inconsistent you are, the harder it will be for you to learn.

Having a scheduled time to learn and a goal to achieve is a great way to ensure that you don’t forget about learning.

Consistency and motivation are the two most important factors that contribute to the success of learning a language.

For example, when you listen to an English song repeatedly, you will eventually remember the lyrics.

The same thing happens when you are consistent in learning a language.

Even if you learn another language, you will still be able to remember English if you are consistent and make a habit of learning it.

4. Your Method Used in Learning English

It is not enough to learn the English language by listening to English lessons, exposing your brain to English words, and repeating them over and over again.

The truth is, you might be getting used to the English language, but you don’t understand why some words are different from others or why some people use different words for the same thing.

You might understand how the words are pronounced, but you don’t know why they are that way.

Your method of learning English may also affect your understanding and how fast you learn.

For example, if you are using an English grammar book to learn English but are not practicing the grammar rules, it will be difficult to master them.

Then maybe you need to change your learning method, go out and practice, and meet new people who are also learning English.

People learn in different ways.

19 Reasons Why English is the Hardest Language to Learn

Except for a few European countries, English is the most spoken language in the world.

So, plenty of people speak English, which means plenty of people trying to learn it.

Some people think that it is challenging to learn English, and that is not unreasonable.

Let’s take a look at 19 reasons why English is the hardest language to learn.

1. Mixed Origins of the Language

It is hard to pin down precisely what the English language is.

The language has evolved, and many different cultures have influenced it.

For example, English contains many words from French, German, Latin, and many other languages.

English is derived from Old English, including the language of the Anglo-Saxons.

Old English has its roots in Old Norse, Latin, and French.

The Norman invasion of England also influenced the English and French languages in 1066.

It was during this time that many words were introduced from French and Latin.

Some of the words in English are still related to French.

Some of the words from French include château, cuisine, and avant-garde.

These words have been around for a long time, and they have been influencing English ever since.

These words are now part of the English language, written in the English language dictionary, and they are so ingrained in the language that they are hard to change.

With the mixed origins of the language, English is full of words that are related to other languages.

It means that the language is a mix of many different worlds and cultures, making it hard to learn.

This is because English is very broad in its meaning, and the meaning of many words in English can be influenced by the speaker’s culture or the origin of the word itself.

There are approximately 171,146 words in the English language, spoken by more than 1.30 billion people worldwide.

With the spread of English, it became even more diverse, and there are even more words related to other languages and cultures.

2. Different Cultural Influences

As you know, English is a very diverse language, and many different cultures have influenced it.

For example, the word “brunette” comes from the French word for “brown”, and so there are many words that come from French.

Another example is the word “blitz”, which means “lightning”.

So, the fact that so many different cultures influenced English in the past — means that many words come from many other languages.

3. Archaic English is Still Present

English is an ancient language, and it has evolved a lot over the years.

And Archaic English, which is what people used to say, is still present in English today.

They are words that have been used for a long time, and sometimes they are very difficult to understand because the meaning has changed over time or even because the word is not in everyday use anymore.

Some words may also have simple meanings but are considered old-fashioned or “archaic” because they are out of fashion.

Some of these words include “damsel”, which means a girl who is in distress, or “thither”, which literally means “there”.

Another tricky word is “fruit”, which, if you think about it today, means “a thing that is grown on a tree”, but as an archaic word, it means “offspring” or “children”.

In addition to the many different cultures that have influenced English, there are also many different dialects.

There are about 160 different dialects of English!

That means that there are a lot of different ways to speak English.

So, it can be complicated to learn all of these different accents and pronunciations.

For example, the American dialect is not particularly difficult to understand if you live in America.

There is also the British dialect, which is quite distinct from American English.

Then there are other dialects like Scottish and Irish English that can be difficult to understand if you don’t live in these areas.

Simple words like “water” are pronounced differently in different dialects.

Or the “h” in the word “hello” may be silent in the Brit dialect but pronounced clear in the American dialect.

It is why it can be tough to learn English if you are learning from scratch.

You can’t get used to these different accents and dialects the same way you can get used to your dialect.

It can be challenging to learn if you don’t live in an area where a particular dialect is spoken.

5. Nonsense Everyday English Words

In English, many words are entirely made up.

These are called “nonsense words”, and they can be a huge source of confusion for non-native English speakers.

These pseudo-words include “Jabberwocky”, which is based on Lewis Carroll’s mythical creature that talks like a bird and has a big mouth, “scribble scrabble”, which is a nonsense word for scribble or writing and drawing, and “bazinga“, which is often used as a way to express surprise.

While many of these words are not listed in dictionaries, many natives use them in casual conversation.

Mixed vocabulary means that words are based on two or more base words combined to create a new word.

For example, “chortle“, a word for laughing, is made up of the words “chuckle” and “snort“.

Another example is “brunch“, which is made up of the words “breakfast” and “lunch“, or “spork” which is made up of the words “spoon” and “fork“.

Another reason why English is so hard to learn is that it is inconsistent and illogical.

For example, “There are no stupid questions apart from those that aren’t asked,” “There is no reason to cry, but you might be my reason for crying,” and “It is the job of the customer to tell you what they want.” 

The first and second sentences are illogical since they talk about no questions and no reasons, but then they talk about some exceptions.

The last sentence is confusing because it talks about the customer is the one to order, but the customers also have a job to tell the waiter what they want.

English is complex, with many rules and exceptions.

For example, there are many exceptions to the rule that if you use a word in the past tense, you should use “ed” instead of “d” at the end of the word.

There are also many exceptions to the rule that if you use a word in the present tense, you should use “s” at the end of the verb if it’s singular.

For example, “She sells flowers” is different from “I sell flowers” in terms of verbs, although the two sentences are grammatically correct and they are both present tense.

Or “She is selling flowers” is different from “They are selling flowers” in terms of verbs because the first one is present tense and the second one is a continuous tense.

Another example would be “I have a cat” and “I have two cats“, which are different in terms of plural and singular nouns.

There are many sounds that are hard to pronounce, and there are many different pronunciations in different countries.

For example, the words “rural“, “Otorhinolaryngologist”, and “anemone” might be hard to pronounce for some people.

Words like “park“, “horse“, or “further” are also pronounced differently in British English and American English because of the different vowel pronunciations.

Idioms are phrases that are unique to a particular culture.

For example, “Hang in there” is an idiom that means “to persevere“.

But the phrase “give someone a good kicking” is an example of an idiom unique to Australia.

This phrase means making someone feel excited, which is different from kicking someone as in inflicting pain.

Another example would be “a piece of cake” which means “something that is easy“.

Confusing Rules in Spelling

When you learn a language, you need to learn the rules of spelling.

However, English spelling is quite confusing.

For example, the letter “g” can be spelled “gh“, “j“, or “g“.

These are just a few examples of the many confusing rules in English spelling.

Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings.

For example, “new” and “knew” are homophones.

English is full of homophones, and they can be very confusing.

Stressing Certain Words & Different Intonations

When you speak English, you have to use different tones in your voice.

It is because there are words that can be stressed to make them more critical.

For example, in English, you would say “the moon” and stress the word “moon” because it is the noun you are talking about, or you would stress “green” in “greenhouse” and “flow” in “overflow“.

There are many different ways to emphasize words in English, and the rules can be pretty confusing.

Complicated Tenses of Words

Tenses are a part of English grammar that is very complicated.

When you can add “yesterday” or “tomorrow” to indicate when something happened in some languages, you have to use tenses in English.

For example, “I went to the cinema” and “I am going to the cinema” are two different tenses, one for the past and one for the future.

Synonyms can be tricky because many words are used to describe the same thing.

For example, “loud” and “earsplitting” are both synonyms for sounds that are very loud.

Complex Logical Order of Words

When you look at the English language, you see that it is written logically.

The order of words is often based on what is happening in the sentence.

For example, if you say “I want to buy a house“, the order of words would be subject, verb, object.

For example, “I am learning Spanish” consists of the subject, auxiliary verb, verb+ing, object.

Another example is the phrase “walking in the rain” which consists of the verb (in this case, it is gerund), preposition, and the explanation of the preposition.

Formality is a huge part of any language, and this is especially true of English.

You can say a few very simple things in English, but it can be considered rude or uncommon to speak in a way that is not formal.

To learn a language, you have to be able to read and write it.

But when you are translating English into other languages, you can’t just translate word by word.

For example, if you translate the sentence “city of stars”, it means a city full of stars.

Another example is the sentence “the virus has been uploaded”.

In this case, the word “virus” can mean a software application or a computer virus instead of a plague.

Inflection Changes Words Meaning

Inflection is the process of changing the form of a word or adding suffixes to a word.

It means that you have to know the meaning of the word and know how to change the form of the word.

For example, the word “himself” refers to the possessive form of the word “him”.

Learning English can be challenging, and there are many reasons why it is so hard, including cultural influences, inflection, word stress, grammar, different pronunciation, and many other things.

But it is important to remember that it is not impossible to learn English and do it if you want to.

Exposing yourself to different people and different situations will help you learn.

Getting used to the sounds of English, learning the vocabulary, and understanding words are all good ways to learn.

So, don’t be discouraged by all the difficulties you face, but instead, focus on learning consistently and persistently.

You may consider learning the English language for fun or other reasons best known to you.

Whatever the case, the question of whether English is hard to learn may have popped up in your head at some point.

To many native English speakers, the English language may seem straightforward and easy to grasp.

The English language is broad and dynamic.

This means that it changes from time to time and adopts new words from various sources.

This could be tricky for those who wish to learn the language.

However, it is one of the world’s most recognized and used languages, so learning it is an idea you should not despair about.

With commitment and focus, anyone who desires to learn English can.

This article aims to answer the question of whether or not the English language is hard to learn.

Is English difficult or easy to learn?

Is English difficult or easy to learn?

English is a difficult language to learn.

Just like many other languages, the English language has peculiar rules.

However, what makes it more complicated than many other languages are the clusters of rules and exceptions that guide its usage.

From the use of grammar to punctuation to vocabulary, there are a lot of things that make up the English language.

Let’s take a deep look into what makes the English language so complicated.

What Makes English Difficult?

What Makes English Difficult?

Here is a list of reasons why learning the English language is difficult to learn:

One of the biggest difficulties of learning English is the subtle inconsistency in sound and pronunciation.

Words with similarities in letters do not necessarily sound the same.

For instance, “brought” doesn’t sound the same as “dough” or “through” even though they contain the same combination of letters “ough”.

As if that is not enough, many words have silent consonant letters.

This only adds to learners’ confusion as you cannot but wonder what the use of these letters is in each word.

Lastly, some words have weird pronunciations.

In the end, the realized pronunciation is the same as the word “you,” the same as “European,” and “eulogy.”

Many native speakers sometimes wonder why some English words are not spelled as pronounced.

For example, why isn’t “tired” spelled as “tayad” or “choir” as “kwayer” not to talk of non-native English speakers who are trying to learn the language.

Also, there’s a rule for spelling words with “ie” or “ei”.

The rule is that “I should come before E except after C,” as in the case of “believe” and “receipt.” But this doesn’t hold for words like “science,” “weird,” or “seize.”

This means you can not correctly spell many words through their sounds except by carefully memorizing them.

For example, “Daniel is a boy.” Daniel is a singular subject that takes a singular verb “is”.

In contrast, “you” always takes a plural verb when referring to a single person or many individuals.

Also, collective nouns like “a flock of sheep, a pair of shoes” take singular verbs, even though the subject is more than one.

Furthermore, the letter “s” is added to nouns to make them plural, whereas the letter “s” is added to a verb to make it singular.

This can be not very clear to comprehend for many individuals who are willing to learn the language.

Verbs take many forms in the English language.

“ed” is added to regular verbs to make them past tense.

On the other hand, the past tenses of irregular verbs are unique.

Also, it can be draining and time-consuming as you need to learn the peculiarities and application of each word individually.

Another challenge for English language learners is the inconsistency in plural forms of nouns.

But there are exceptions to some words.

For instance, the plural forms of words like police and sheep remain the same as their singular counterparts.

Even many native English speakers have a hard time when it comes to writing in English.

If you’re seeking to go beyond speaking the English language to writing or transcribing, then you need to gain mastery of the use of punctuation.

7. Word Order or Sentence Structure

For instance, there should be nothing wrong with saying “a black big shoe.” But, it just isn’t accepted as an English phrase.

For native English speakers, they have the natural intuition to know how to order these words.

In contrast, this may prove difficult for non-native learners as there is no logical explanation except that it just doesn’t sound right to say “a black big shoe.”

Finally, you need to change the order of a word to ask a question in the English language.

For instance, you cannot simply ask a question by saying, “You are okay?” Rather, you say, “Are you okay?” whereas this is not the case in other languages.

For instance, even though “I” and “me” may refer to a person, you cannot use them interchangeably.

Also, they and they are not interchangeable in sentences, even though they both refer to many people.

Many English words may have similarities in meaning.

But this doesn’t mean they can be used all the time interchangeably.

Also, some words have multiple meanings, which may cause people to use them completely out of context.

Homonyms sound the same as other words but with different spellings or meanings.

Examples include, “heard and had,” “won and one,” “eye and I,” etc.

Interestingly, some words can have more than three meanings, such as “right” and “raise”.

The English language is filled with lots of idiomatic expressions.

Most non-native speakers may find it difficult to grasp these idioms.

For example, “he kicked the bucket” means “he is dead.” Also, the phrase “behind bars” is not meant to be taken literally.

Therefore, those who wish to learn the English language have to make the sacrifice of learning the meaning of English idioms.

Families of Languages

The English language is a compendium of many words borrowed from French, Latin, and Germany.

The fact that it is a blend of different languages also contributes to its complicated and contradictory pronunciations.

It is interesting to note that the way you stress a word can subtly change its purpose in a statement in the English language.

In English, a noun could serve as an adjective in a sentence depending on its usage.

But due to its usage in the given example, it serves as an adjective for the noun “father”.

Furthermore, you can easily change a verb to a noun by adding “er”.

You can learn the language from vast sources like television shows, movies, books, etc.

You can also enroll in online courses or register for physical classes to learn the language.

Is English the hardest language to learn?

Is English the hardest language to learn?

Is English the hardest language to learn?

No. English may be hard to learn, but it is not the most difficult to learn.

Other tricky languages are Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic.

How long does it take the average person to learn English?

For many adults, the time frame for learning the basic English language is between nine months and a year if at least four hours are dedicated to learning every day.

Why is English so complicated?

The English language is difficult to master because of its contradictory rules, dynamics, spelling, and pronunciation.

Why should you learn the English language?

Why should you learn the English language?

Learning English gives you many job opportunities, educational benefits, and global relevance.

The English language is indeed a complex language to learn.

The challenge of understanding these perplexing spellings, confusing idioms, word order, and punctuation, among others, may seem overbearing.

But learning the language can open many doors of opportunity for you.

So, if you are interested in learning the language, you shouldn’t feel discouraged in your pursuit.

It is important to note that every language has its complexities.

Besides, native English speakers face challenges when learning a foreign language.

Therefore, you should enroll in a language course to begin your training.

Also, be open to reading materials such as English movies, articles, books, magazines, TV shows, etc., to speed up your growth.

Lastly, if you wish to get started, you can check the article on the best platforms to learn languages here.

Easy Languages to Learn: Top 16 Easiest Languages You Can Learn

Is Turkish Hard To Learn: Everything You Need To Know

Is Spanish Hard to Learn?

Best Platforms To Learn Languages: Free and Paid

Here Are The Top 10 Reasons Why English Is The Universal Language 

Scroll to Top