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What Hampers Learning English? We Begin the Investigation


So, we begin to collect reasons for which, it seems to you, you cannot learn English. Today we will analyze two extremely common ideas that many people, who have problems with learning a language, like to hide behind. These are such ideas as "you need to learn the language from the childhood" and "you need to go abroad and live there to learn the language". Familiar stories, aren't they?

So, there is such a popular opinion that the best (or even only) effective way to learn English is "you have to go to England, you will immediately learn it there" (for some reasons it is exactly England, apparently because the language is English). And it is even better to learn English as a child: then, as they say, there is no need to apply any effort at all. And, apparently, the best option is a child who lives in a country where English is spoken.

You just cannot argue with the latter argument, especially if the move happened right after birth. However, let us see how children learn English and how those who study it abroad deal.

It Is Easy to Learn the Language as a Child

To begin with, there is no scientific confirmation of this fact (however, with the exception of pronunciation – here, science agrees that children deal with it better). But the idea of children who are achieving fantastic results in learning the language appeared, apparently, as a result of the fact that children, being among foreign peers, begin to communicate quite briskly in a few days or in a week. It is true, but:

  • The level of language that people around expect to hear from an adult (or teenager) is very different from what is needed to communicate for children;
  • For children, several dozen verbs and ready-made phrases are enough to play with peers. That is why it seems that the language comes easily to children.

Adults are unlikely to be satisfied with enough primitive phrases necessary for children to play ball. And since the knowledge of the language is not enough to talk about usual topics – politics, sports, gossip – it seems that it comes much harder to adults. To squeeze out a couple of foreign words – it is a feat at the very beginning of learning the language, not to mention sports and politics.

The blame for this is the second difference between adults and children – complexes.

How do adults treat mistakes? "I cannot begin to speak until I am sure that I will say it right" – such a perfectionist approach actually hinders the mastery of the language. Imagine that you have to make mistakes 1000 times to reach a certain level. And the earlier you start talking, the sooner you will reach the right level – and you remain in one place while continuing to be silent.

And, finally, the third, and, perhaps, the most important factor. How much time a day does a child devote to learning the first language? Almost all my free time – 16 hours a day, 365 days a year. Compare it with your 2 times a week for 2 hours, it is not surprising that the child is in a better position.

At the same time, apart from the time factor, adults are in a much better position than the children – they know what to learn, can force themselves where it is necessary, and most importantly – adults have experience, intelligence, logical thinking at their disposal – all this will not be superfluous when mastering the language.

I Will Move to London


Arguing with this statement is the hardest. To go the country of the studied language, to talk there with native speakers, to walk the streets, to read signs and not be able to do anything without communication in a foreign language – it is really the best way to learn the language.

At the same time, this method has a couple of points to look at:

  • If you are going to carry out such an experiment on yourself at the very beginning of learning the language, be prepared for a strong stress. Simple things that are made automatically at home, will bring a lot of discomforts. And discomfort is an obstacle to learning a language. To buy a ticket for the bus, to go to eat in a cafe, to ask for directions – every action will require considerable effort;
  • The second danger of visiting an English-speaking country ahead of time is to slide down into sign language and individual words. The feeling of discomfort can lead to the following: it is too much temptation to show something with a finger, gesture, draw in the air to overcome domestic difficulties. And if you resort to speech, then you use not full-fledged competent phrases, but individual words, pointing a finger in yourself, then in the interlocutor instead of pronouns, and explaining the verbs with the help of the suddenly awakening talent of pantomime.

    This is hardly the English you are striving for. Therefore, before rushing into the linguistic pool of the country of the language you are studying, master some necessary minimum at home;

  • The company of compatriots can bring all efforts to naught. If you find yourself in a foreign country in a company of compatriots, then, probably instinctively, you will want to be with them all the time, walking together for groceries and around the city, and, in addition, doing all this by speaking your native language. This is understandable – it is safer and calmer, but this is exactly what will make your trip (as a rule, not cheap) useless.

    If you are in this situation –  try to separate yourself from familiar faces and find new friends who do not speak your language. You will get acquainted with new people and practice the language.

  • It is expensive. We sincerely congratulate those for whom this argument will only be in fourth place. The cost of a trip to study a foreign language for most of our compatriots is sky-high. A two-week trip for one person can cost as much as two or three modest holidays for the whole family. So, what to do?

Do not worry – although you cannot simulate a trip by a London bus, a trip by the London Underground or a trip to a London supermarket not being in London. But it is possible to learn English without going abroad. But this is a topic for a separate discussion.

If you want to know more, read on this topic here.

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