Why Learning English is Hard

English is the language most being learned all over the world right now. Estimates suggest that at any given time there are over 1 billion people learning English worldwide. Learning English falls into four main categories:

  1. Listening
  2. Speaking
  3. Reading
  4. Writing

At EssayJack, we focus on the “writing” component of learning English for a few reasons.

iStock-525351436First, success in written English is necessary to move forward in one’s educational career. Put another way, if you can’t write well in school, you will get bad grades.


Second, success in written English is necessary for career progression. Put another way, if you can’t write well at work, you won’t get promoted.


Now, we don’t make these rules, but the statistics are clear. If you don’t achieve competence with written English, then your ability to climb the corporate ladder or get the scholarship you want will be limited. 


Yet, mastering written English is hard. It is especially hard if you learn English in a context where it isn’t the national language or the language that even many English teachers are most comfortable with. I’ve relocated to Asia with my co-founder to look closely at English language learning in this region.


What I’m seeing is that what makes mastering written English hard isn’t always just a question of grammar or syntactical complexity. Sure, that’s part of the issue. English language learners have to grapple with the oddities of the English language such as our fixation with silent letters (ex: “knife” – pronounced “nife”) or unexpected letter combinations producing odd sounds (ex: “cough” – prounounced kof). As well, there’s no real short cut to knowing prepositions other than simply memorizing them: on, off, for, towards, after, behind, etc. 


Yet, often the single biggest difficulty to mastering English as an additional language in a city or country where English isn’t the main language is a lack of confidence. Learning anything new is hard. You will fall down lots of times before you master the skill. When I was learning to ride a bike with pedals where I had to clip in…I used to fall at least once every half an hour! It was embarrassing. I would fall over on the road, at crosswalks, and in front of lots and lots of people. Sometimes I scraped or bruised myself. Sometimes it was only my ego that suffered. Learning to master writing in a new language is like that. You have to be willing to fall over, make mistakes, even hurt yourself, if you want to improve.



And that, in my opinion, is where good teaching comes in. Whether you are an English language teacher from an English speaking country who has travelled to the far corners of the world to help others master the language that you were born into or whether you are an English teacher who has come to the language as an additional language to your mother tongue, that you’ve learned to love later in life, the most important thing that you can give to your students in addition to your professional expertise is your enthusiasm and support.


I’ve been so lucky to see some truly excellent teachers in Asia – some who are ex-pats from the English speaking world and some who are born and bred in Asia – who truly want to bring out the very best in their students. And what they all share is a genuine desire to build up their students’ confidence.


And to all of you, I say:

thank you

terima kasih

ありがとうございました (arigato)

고맙습니다 (gomabseubnida)

谢谢 (Xièxiè)





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