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https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

Your perspective?: Non native English speakers' input wanted on difficulty of Learning English.

Hello, tonight I would like to get community input on the difficulty of Learning English. Basically put your native language, and how difficult you found the grammar/pronunciation/word order or whatever. It would also be cool if you could share something previously unknown about your own NL you discovered through learning English. Thank you/Danke Dir!

2 years ago

20 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/dina-z

I've studied English, Russian, German and now I'm learning Danish. English is by far the easiest language of them all in my opinion. It's easy to speak in English (I guess that would depend on where you're from and what your language sounds like, but for me it seems easy), grammar is mostly easy with some exceptions, word order is almost the same as it is in my native language (Latvian). It's also quite easy to learn because it's very popular, you won't have trouble finding movies, songs, books or audiobooks in English.

I think the hardest part is all the accents (it took me a long time to learn to understand for example Welsh or Scottish accents and still sometimes I don't), also American and British English have some differences, words can be spelled differently etc. so sometimes that can be tricky. (I assume it's the same with Australian English etc.) I also struggle with punctuation, I still use commas and stuff like I would in Latvian. Oh and I think I use "a", "an" and "the" too much, whenever I'm in doubt I just add them. :D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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I'm a native speaker (Tucson Arizona USA) AND I couldn't understand people in Durham or Glasgow when I visited England. They understood me OK.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dina-z

Ah, that's good to know, I guess. :D I have a coworker who has an accent I sometimes have trouble with and I always feel so silly for asking him to repeat what he said (especially because he can always understand me). For me the best way how to learn to understand an accent is to find a radio station and listen to it for a while, somehow I slowly get used to the flow of the words and all the sounds, at least it worked for some I tried. That or just asking people to speak slowly. :D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielguer28
danielguer28
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i´m native Spanish speaker. The grammar is sometimes difficult, the pronunciation is not so difficult specially the British one and the word order sometimes it´s very difficult

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buenotc
buenotc
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Native English speaker here. Kudos to you for learning such a difficult language with its many varieties. Many words have been improved upon in both spelling and pronunciation but I still think more improvements can be made. It's easy for us because we learnt it without a filter language from childhood to adulthood. I hate saying debt because it sounds like death. But when I emphasize the b it sounds like dept lol :/. War stories...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisa1240

As a native speaker, surely you should know that the "b" in "debt" is silent?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnthonyMan200

He/She was just saying how it SOUNDED when they emphasized the b

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisa1240

I know. The point is that the b is silent, so it shouldn;t be spoken at all.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buenotc
buenotc
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Do you know why it's silent and pronounced like death? That was not an improvement. How about aunt pronounced like ant? I prefer to emphasize the au which sort of maintain the french sound without the starting t.

I hope your language studies lead you to great understanding and competency.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielguer28
danielguer28
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thanks for the advice, where are you from?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buenotc
buenotc
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South America. I could also count Spanish as my native language but I don't because what constitute as native is a bit subjective. Speaking Spanish is my day job :).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Katouz
Katouz
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Native Czech speaker here. For me, learning English was extremely hard especially at the beginning (when I was around 6), as these two languages have only very few similarities. The worst part were tenses. Czech doesn't have, for example, past and present perfect, and the difference between present simple and continous isn't very clear either. I'm also still confused by the punctuation. I just put commas where I feel like they should be :D (Czech language uses many more of those compared to English)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

many more than in english? And I though we used too many!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarvinTheR1

I'm German, and English was quite easy to pick up. Reasons:

  • Immersion/exposure early on (music, games, books, movies and so on)

  • Really simple grammar

  • It's a Germanic language after all

  • Influence of Latin on both German and English

  • Some Low German words are similar to English

I think the most important part when learning a language is, that you actually use it on a regular basis. Formal education wise, I've had 9 years of English, 4.5 years of Latin and the equivalent of 4 years of French back in school. Later on, another 3 years of Spanish in university. I have forgotten most of my Latin and French though, because I had few to no reasons to use it outside the classroom.

As far as Indo-European languages go, I'd say that, when it comes to grammar, it does not get easier than English (at least based on the languages that I know and that I've heard of). That's the reason why a lot of people say that English is easy to pick up (less energy required to speak it on a basic level, compared to other languages).

In a lot of cases, German has words with different origins for a given meaning.The words with the Germanic origin are usually used in colloquial German whereas the words with a foreign origin (primarily: Latin) are usually used in a more formal setting like newspapers or technical literature.

pretentious - prätentiös - anmaßend/selbstgefällig/eingebildet - (Latin origin: praetendere)

geology - Geologie - Erdgeschichte/Erdkunde - (Greek origins: ge + logos)

You could describe the Low German, that is still spoken by some people in the area that I'm from, as a mixture of German, Dutch and English.

smoke - smöken - rauchen (German)

By now, I can read anything in English and even understand most of the accents - even thick ones - without a problem. When using English actively, I still make mistakes from time to time; spelling (heared instead of heard), punctuation, pronunciation... and you will most likely be able to infer that I'm from Germany when I'm talking to you in English :D.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

Yes. As you can tell by my username I am half German. I find German more natural for me than English, imagine that! I also feel like German should have been my NL instead of English. After I switch back from talking to a native speaker I feel like i just had some bad cough medicine. It is tough to explain but put simply even with my limited vocabulary and grammar knowledge I find it more natural for me to speak and think in Deutsch then to to do the same in English.

Strange I know, Ich glaube I was born in the wrong country XD

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bartroan
bartroan
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I am German and I also found English very easy to learn. I also tried my luck with French and that I found horribly difficult in comparison. Currently I'm looking into Skandinavian languages and they appear to be even more intuitiv to me than English, so I guess it's the shared Germanic stemm that makes it easy for me whereas Romanic languages seem strange and foreign. I never even tried a Non-European language because I think I would do even worse there.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

I agree, I took 3 years of French WAY back in high school, and I think I was ok with what I got through. But Since I have devoted my language studies to mostly German (and Hungarian when it releases), I have forgotten most if not all of my french . I don't think the romance ones are for me as I am much more comfortable studying a Germanic one, probably has to do with the the inner family relationship Deutsch/Englisch share.

Maybe you find it more intuitiv because English has a splash of romance/latin thrown?

And I do envy your ability to just speak ohne having to worry about using the wrong ending. But you're a native speaker, why should I believe any different XD

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Pawsycuddles

Well, I am half Thai/English but lived in Thailand for most of my life. I then moved back to England at 7 years old and at 11 I was put into an advanced school. I'd say it's very easy.

*Just to add, Thai is probably one of the most complicated language systems in the world.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fire-ergens
Fire-ergens
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Hi, i'm a native Dutch speaker, Learning English wasn't very difficult for me. I got plenty of exposure to it in movies, trips to the UK, and reading (a lot)

The most difficult thing about English in my opinion is probably lack of proper translatability between both languages and the overly conplicated grammar books. (oh, how i wish i coud throw that thing out of the window)

The easy thing about English is that you don't have to learn 'verkleinwoordjes' (dimunitives) and that you only have 'the' instead of 'de' and 'het', the grammar is also quite simple and less chaotic than Dutch. (i shudder at the thought of zinsontleding)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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Tis MUCH easier to learn the rules by just learning a basic rule, then the exceptions, than reading a grammar book and trying to apply the explanations - they're WAY too complicated. One of the reasons I like Duo, is it doesn't do that. Grammar books often try to answer the question why when there isn't a why, it's just the way it is.

2 years ago