Why is it Difficult to Learn English?

By Alifa Rismayanti

Edited by Salma Maulani



The majority of EFL students are facing many difficulties in learning English as one of the compulsory subjects in school. Moreover, there are many adults in EFL countries experiencing those difficulties as well.  It resulted in many individuals questioning the factors that cause English become a very difficult language for some people.

There are several reasons why non-native speakers are experiencing the learning process difficult, even some of them think that English is “the weirdest language”. The first reason is many words in English have double consonants but the pronunciation is very different. It leads to the confusion of many learners and frequently wondering “How do they say that?” or “how can I say this word?”. Let’s see on the given example below:


via boredpanda.com


Based on the example above, it is very clear that the same letter combinations can have a totally different pronunciation. The word “through” is read /θruː/; “Tough” is read  /tʌf/; “Throughout” is read /θru(ː)ˈaʊ /; “Thought” is read /θɑːt/; and “though” is read  /ðoʊ/. Each of those words has a different meaning depending on its context; as a conjunction; a noun; a preposition, etc. Moreover, these pronunciations can be more varied when it gets influenced with accents and dialects. For instance, the English language differences between the British accent and American accent. Albeit the words or phrases are the same, it can have different sounds or meanings depending on its context.

Regarding the pronunciation issue, there are also other cases that most people believe that double “o” letters meet in a word, the output sound is /u:/ or /ʊ/. For example, in the word “wood” the output sound is /wʊd/ and the word “school” is /skuːl/. However, in the word “blood” the output sound is /blʌd/. Those are the common challenges in pronunciation for most learners.

The second factor is English has a strange vocabulary pattern. For instance, the word “pineapple”, the tropical fruit that consists of aromatic and edible yellow flesh. The word pineapple has no correlation with the word pine (an evergreen coniferous tree) and apple (a round red or green skin fruit of a tree). Some people might have a hard time understanding the word because it does not make any sense.


Via memedroid.com


Besides pronunciation, grammatical issues also occurred to learners. For instance, to explain something that happened in the past, past tense is used. In order to use the past tense, the first thing that learners learn is usually adding “ed” at the end of the verb such as “work” becomes “worked”. However, irregular verbs do exist like the word “sink” becomes “sank”. It does not necessarily mean adding “ed” at the end of a sentence then the sentence becomes past tense.

Furthermore, there are a lot of grammatical rules that need to be learned in order to master the language. Beside English has 16 tenses, there are many other rules in grammar. Furthermore, there is also a possibility that the English grammar is different from the grammar of the learner’s first language. For example, in the sentence “this is a white shirt”, one of the grammar rules is to put the adjective first followed by the noun. However, in Indonesia language, the grammar is to put the noun first followed by the adjective. That is the case where there is a noun and an adjective, it will be more confusing if there are 2 or more adjectives to describe the noun. For instance, between “this is an old white shirt” and “this is a white old shirt”, which one do you think is grammatically correct? There is only one correct answer even when both sentences make sense.

As a result, in order to overcome the challenges mentioned above, it is very essential to familiarize and expose ourselves with English. It is very obvious that English  is an international language which can enable us to understand many different perspectives around the world and can also open up many opportunities to enhance ourselves in many aspects. Especially when we want to expand our career, many international companies are seeking multilingual professionals every year.


Reference :

Nuria Egam, Why Can English Be Difficult to Learn? Retrieved from

Squline, 18 Manfaat Belajar Bahasa Inggris di Era Globalisasi

Learn English with EnglishClass101.com, 5 Reasons to Learn English

Pictures by: https://www.boredpanda.com/funny-english-language-jokes/?

Dictionary by: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/

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