For students and professionals hailing from countries that don’t have English as their primary language, having to learn how to speak and write in fluent English can be difficult. English is a highly technical language, and not being able to converse properly can have negative effects in a person’s career or studies.
As distance learning becomes more popular and the world is becoming more interconnected, non-native English speakers need assistance, whether it’s getting help with English homework or help with drafting a business proposal in English.
The Burden of Speaking and Writing in Fluent English
In business as well as in the academy, English is commonly the primary language spoken. This is the reason why passing an English Proficiency Test (EPT) is still a requirement for people coming from non-English speaking countries to work or study in countries such as the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia.
There are various EPTs online available for people, and you can get certified by taking an online course. However, there are some instances that require test takers to physically go to an accredited testing center, such as careers in medicine and engineering.
Some of the most popular and well-known tests, such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System), are geared towards people who want to study in English-speaking countries. TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), on the other hand, is geared more towards businessmen.
Depending on your location, the costs of these tests can range anywhere from $160 to $250, with the scores being valid for two years from passing the test. In some cases, you may need to get recertified after the validity period has lapsed, no matter how proficient you have become in speaking and writing in English.
Other Difficulties Learning English and Tips for Improvement
The main reason that non-native English speakers find English so hard to learn is that it’s so self-contradictory! Aside from all the basic rules of grammar, spelling, syntax, and pronunciation that you have to learn, it gets even more confusing once you start learning conversational English compared to basic English. In fact, even native English speakers are not complete masters of the English language.
Here are some of the more confusing aspects of the English language that non-native speakers find hard to understand:
- Contronyms – You will find that English has words that have the exact opposite meanings. The word “dust”, for example, can mean to clean dust from a surface OR to sprinkle with a powdery substance.
- Homographs – This refers to words that are spelled and pronounced in exactly the same way, but will differ depending on how the word is used in the sentence. “Bat”, for example, can either mean the sporting equipment or the flying animal.
- Accents – A word can mean different things depending on where the accent is placed on the word. For the word “address”, for example, putting the accent on the first syllable refers to a physical location. Putting the accent on the second syllable changes the word into a verb, and it means talking to someone.
- Silent letters – Non-native speakers find words like “knight”, “pterodactyl”, and “ewe” just plain bizarre and difficult to understand.
The Context and Nuance of English
Aside from all the strange and difficult words to understand in the English language, as well as the rules that always seem to be bent, non-native speakers can find it difficult to speak English fluently because the language can change in slight ways depending on the location and culture that they are living in. British English and American English are similar for the most part, but there are small cultural differences, such as when Americans use “fries” and British people use “chips” to refer to thinly-sliced fried potatoes.
Practicing English Skills with Integrated Learning
The best way to learn English, whether for business, for studies, or just for conversation, is to keep practicing. Watching shows and reading books out loud in English is a great way to practice and learn oral English.
If you are a student with English courses and you find it difficult to keep up with the homework load, you can use homework helpers to check the spelling and grammar of your assignments.
Speak with native English speakers as much as possible as well. Conversational English might be difficult to grasp in the beginning, but over time, you will find that it will become easier for you if you keep practicing on a daily basis.
Do you have a story about teaching or learning English?
Submit your story and it could get featured in our next blog publication.
More Blog Articles for Teaching and Learning English:
- Fear-Setting Activity for English Language Learners
- 3 Strategies on How to Learn English from French
- 4 Main Challenges of Academic Writing for ESL Students
- Experimental Education: 9 World-Famous Alternative Schools
- Translation as a Way to Save Indigenous Languages
- 3 Fun Ways of Teaching English as a Second Language
- 5 Tips for Teaching English the Fun Way
- Top 3 Apps to Learn English for Free
- Why Getting a TEFL Certificate is Worth It
- How to Learn English Fast and Effectively by Yourself
- Managing Culture Shock When Working Abroad