Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday language: No such thing as an "easy" language to learn

Language is a passion of mine.  As a linguist, I love learning about the intricacies of language and how they differ across many different languages.  My favorite language is English, and yes, that is because I am a native speaker of the language.  I have no shame in my love for English.  It is a fascinating language that comes in many varieties, and as a global lingua franca and the most common language used for international affairs, it is constantly changing in ways I'll never know but I am always trying to figure out.

For that reason, English teachers are always needed throughout the world.  Non-native speakers are always trying to further their English skills in order to be as successful as possible in their academic and career endeavors.  As a native-speaking English instructor, it can sometimes be difficult to understand what it is like to learn English.  Yes, I know what it is like to learn a language as I attempt to get better Japanese, but I will never know what it is like to learn English.  This is why non-native instructors are useful despite the protests of students who only want native-speaking instructors.  Non-native instructors understand what it is like to learn English and can better relate to their students in that way.

That said, I have analyzed English at much length and have tried to determine for myself what it might be like to learn English.  As with any language, there are many aspects of English that make it an incredibly difficult to language to learn, but there are also aspects that make it simple.  Let me just say it now that there is no such thing as an "easy" language to learn.  All languages are very complex and take a great amount of dedication and motivation to use efficiently, let alone master.  A language might seem "easy" to learn if it is similar to one's first language, but that does not make it an easy language in general.  For that reason, non-native speakers with Germanic first languages typically have an easier time learning English while non-native speakers with East Asian first languages typically have a much harder time learning English.  Exceptions exist, of course, but this is the general trend, and certainly one that I have seen in my own experiences with teaching English.

I don't want to make this too long as I know that not everyone finds language as interesting as I do, but I so often hear people telling me that they are sure that English is the hardest language to learn in the world for such and such reasons.  The truth is that all languages are difficult to learn.  Languages are extremely complex systems of communication that are always in flux.  That's why I love them.  They are certainly never boring!  Not to me, anyway.  :b

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