Learning English as a second language doesn’t need to be a chore.
In fact, learning English should be enlightening, beneficial, and fun — all at the same time!
However, Rome wasn’t built in a day; improving your English skills will still require time, dedication, and regular practice.
In any case, you may have some questions about learning English as a second language. What are the benefits? What are some potential challenges? And finally, what are some strategies and resources to help you develop your English language skills?
We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at a few reasons that you should learn English as a second language!
English as a Second Language
What are the benefits of learning English as a second language?
If you’re reading this, you probably want to know WHY so many people choose to learn English.
What’s in it for you?
Fortunately, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of reasons to learn English as a second language. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important ones:
Improve Your Communication Skills
Do you have a coworker who speaks English?
Are you taking a course that is conducted in English? Do you plan to take a trip or move to an English-speaking country? Or do you just have an English-speaking friend with whom you want to communicate better?
Even if you answered “no” to all of these questions, learning English as a second language can still help you communicate better. In fact, learning any foreign language can expose you to different cultures and ways of thinking that will improve your overall communication skills. However, as one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, English is one of the best choices for communicating better with friends, coworkers, and even complete strangers!
Improve Your Credentials
English is the international language of business.
It is also the official language of 67 different countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the U.K. Those four countries alone account for nearly half a billion people!
This means that learning English as a second language won’t just improve your communication skills, but it could also open the door for new opportunities.
Most North American universities require students to achieve a minimum score on either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exams.
Additionally, many jobs that involve regular communication with international clients or coworkers prefer applicants who can speak English.
In short, adults learning English as a second language can greatly improve their credentials and increase their chances of success in the academic and business worlds.
Improve Your Cognitive Abilities
While this benefit is not specific to learning English, it is still a great reason to pursue language study in general.
Learning a new language activates parts of the brain that would otherwise stay dormant. Research also shows that learning a second language improves your mental awareness, creativity, and ability to empathize with others.
So, if your goal is self-improvement, taking an English course is a great place to start. It offers you a wide range of benefits — for your communication skills, your resume, and even your brain!
However, nobody said that learning English would be easy.
There are certain challenges that every English student should know.
What are some potential challenges of learning English as a second language?
Whether you’re studying English for the first time or you’ve been studying all your life, you’ve probably encountered several challenges along the way.
You might look at a word and think, “what the heck does that mean?”
Alternatively, you might struggle to understand how and when to use certain grammar structures, English idioms, or vocal tones.
Everybody learns a little differently, which means that some people might find English more challenging than others. In addition, certain aspects of the English language may seem easy to one learner, but extremely difficult to another.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges that English learners face:
There’s not a native English-speaker on Earth that knows every single word in the English language.
This means that learning English as a second language requires you to constantly add new words to your vocabulary. Building vocabulary can pose a challenge to English learners for several reasons.
First, there are a LOT of important words to learn! It can be difficult to commit all of these new words to memory on a regular basis.
And second, as your vocabulary grows, you may struggle to remember words that you learned in the past. This can make English learning feel like an uphill battle. Fortunately, there are some proven ways to build your English vocabulary without forgetting older words.
Even if you can read English and understand the words in your head, you may struggle to say the words out loud. The English language has a lot of unique pronunciations. Depending on your native language, learning English pronunciation can be a big challenge.
Like all of English learning, pronunciation requires a great deal of practice.
It also requires just as much listening as it does speaking. Listening to native English speakers and imitating the sounds is one of the best ways to overcome difficult pronunciations!
Grammar & Tone
Just like vocabulary, English grammar can feel pretty challenging at times.
There are 12 primary verb tenses in English, but that’s just the beginning. You’ll also need to learn about proper sentence structure, tone (for English speaking), and punctuation usage (for English writing).
Sounds like a lot, right?
Thankfully, learning English as a second language is a marathon, not a sprint. You just need to take things one step at a time.
The more you learn and practice, the easier it will become!
Even if you know what to say, you may not understand what the other person wants to say!
Native English speakers tend to speak very quickly. They also might use different accents, obscure idioms, or even incorrect grammar.
As you can imagine, conversations with native English speakers can get confusing!
This can make listening comprehension a very difficult activity for non-native English speakers. There are many strategies to improve your listening comprehension, but listening closely is one of the best ways to improve.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something. Treat every conversation as a new opportunity to learn!
Unfortunately, many adults simply don’t have a lot of free time. Between work, family, friends, and other activities, it is easy to let English language learning fall through the cracks.
Moreover, as you age, it gets harder for your brain to adapt to new information. As a result, time can feel like your enemy.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Learning English does require regular practice and exposure to the language (movies, music, etc). However, you don’t have to take formal English courses; you just need to develop a study schedule that works for you and your lifestyle.
Even if you only dedicate 15 minutes per day to English, it will be enough to see improvement over time!
What are some good strategies and resources?
Now that you know some benefits and potential challenges to learning English, it’s time to provide you with strategies and resources to reach your goals!
While most learners would like to speak like a native English speaker, this may not suit your needs. You might want to learn business English or technical words to help you in your workplace. In any case, here are some resources and strategies to help you with all of your English-learning goals!
- Tips to learn English at work
- How to improve your listening comprehension
- Strategies to read English faster
- Resources for English students
- English Speaking Skills Assessment
- Tips to learn English as a second language
- Basic English word list
- How to improve English for adults
While learning English as a second language might be a long journey, it is well worth the effort. The benefits of speaking English can help you make friends, travel to new places, and even advance your career.
That said, you don’t have to have a specific goal in mind to learn English. Learning English is also a great form of self-improvement!
Additionally, learning English doesn’t require a huge price tag. There are plenty of free ESL classes online and affordable English classes for adults.
Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to improve your English!
If you’d like to find out more about learning English as a second language, visit Magoosh Speaking today!