Learning English as a second language can be challenging. English as a second language learners have many obstacles to overcome. English is an unusual language in many ways. It has many rules and exceptions to those rules people learning English may find difficult to understand and remember. Plus there are a number of social and cultural factors they may need to overcome in order to attain the level of fluency they need to succeed in school. The following are some of the biggest hurdles English language learners face.
- Emotional Stress
One of the most difficult things English language learners have to overcome before they can master the language is emotional stress. Many people that are trying to learn English live with the fear they will be ridiculed because of their inability to express themselves clearly and confidently in English among their classmates or other groups of English speakers. This emotional anxiety leads to feelings of alienation and often prevents them from revealing the problems they are having with English. They therefore cannot receive the help they need. This often prevents them from learning English.
- Fear Of Embarrassment
Even students that have strong educational backgrounds and language acquisition skills can stunt their English development if they do not engage with English speakers regularly. Fear, embarrassment, withdrawal, and isolation can become an insurmountable barrier to learning English. Often the only way they are able to overcome those obstacles is if their instructor identifies the problem and has the training and resources to address it. This can be difficult for both the student and the instructor, but the sooner remedial action is taken, the better chance the student has of overcoming their fears and anxieties and learning to communicate in English.
- Not Using English Outside Of School
Learning English and all its nuances takes practice. ESL students that live in a community where their parents, siblings, and friends don’t speak English tend to have a harder time mastering the language. Students that do not attempt to speak English outside of class, do some pleasure reading in English, watch English speaking television programs, or listen to radio stations where English is spoken, take longer to get a firm grasp of the language. The overall trend is that English language learners that only hear, write, and speak English at school struggle with the language, take longer to learn it, graduate late, and often drop out of school.
- No Social Support
The problem some ESL students have is lack of social support and encouragement in their struggle to master the language. Nothing in their home environment helps them to learn new words, improve their pronunciation, or increase their comprehension of English. Their growth as English speakers is stunted because they only hear and use the language for a very limited amount of time each day. Unless English language learners consistently expose themselves to English outside of school, they will not learn the cultural cues that aid in the understanding and mastery of the language.
- Illiteracy In Their Native Language
A serious problem some foreigners face is not being literate in their native language. This forces them to address two problems at once. This issue is difficult to diagnose because teachers may see the student communicating in their native language and reasonably assume their problems learning to read and write in English stems from their lack of familiarity with the language. Unless the teacher becomes aware of the dual nature of their problem, learning to read and write in English can be nearly impossible for this type of English language learner.
This problem is particularly acute with high school age illiterate foreigners. They have not gotten the basic building blocks for literacy in either their native language or in English. The stronger an educational foundation English language learners have in their native language, the easier it is for them to learn English. For older English language learners success is often predicated on them receiving one-on-one literacy instruction from an experienced instructor.
Learning a new language can be a daunting task. But with practice and proper support from well-trained, experienced, caring educators, even the biggest hurdles English language learner face can be overcome.
Article Guest Post
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Bureau Translations a leading company that provide translation services for businesses.