Challenges of learning a foreign language

By Niharika Kohli

Niharika KohliUnlike children, youngsters and adults have a harder time picking up foreign languages. They initially put high demand on themselves but tend to lose their patience quite easily if they do not understand something in a short period of time. Most of them are not ready to accept the fact that the task of mastering a language takes years of study, persistence and patience. If they do not understand a few words or grammar structures they give up on the entire concept. They focus more on the words that they do not know, although the meaning of the text is understood. They usually do not realize that the understanding is much more important than knowing every single word.

Their high standards focus on perfectionism and performance is often an obstacle in effective and motivated learning of a foreign language. The greatest difficulty while learning a foreign language by adults is to get used to the learning process again and devote high time in practicing the language. If they are not used to the learning process since a long period then it might take them some time to grab the stuff until the brain adapts itself to the learning process again.

The psychological component also plays a crucial role in the learner-trainer relationship. Of course, language trainers should always teach with a positive quality and vitality. But a learner with a positive aura also affects the trainer. An unmotivated or unenthusiastic learner fights and struggles more with the subject matter. Attending a language school alone is usually not enough. Learners need to devote their time in doing their homework, because in order to master the grammar of a language one must regularly practice but due to other priorities and busy schedules most learners struggle with keeping up regular practice. Once learned a foreign language one must consistently use it in day-to-day life otherwise chances are that he will gradually forget it. So it important to constantly challenge one's memory. Moreover, the grammatical structures are the basis for speech comprehension regardless of the vocabulary, because without it, one will always speak a broken English, French, Italian or any other language.
Two main points control the difficulty of learning a foreign language. One, the linguistic talent itself. Fact is, that some people have more sense of language than others. i.e. they are more familiar than others with regard to linguistic expression. Some people have strong vocabulary that stays in their mind at disposal and can be used in the formation of sentences when necessary while others internalize the language i.e. they have mastered the grammar rules but often lack the vocabulary and when it comes to usage of the language they simply fall short of everything. It is important that one gets constantly motivated as to why he wants to have a grasp of a particular foreign language in order to be successful in mastering it. A distinction is however to be made between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation because sometimes pressure is exerted by others on the language learners.

For some it is difficult to learn a foreign language because of the reason that he would have to learn it alone. Therefore, many people often give up learning the language in frustration because they cannot cope up with the learning process alone. Hence, anybody who wants to learn a foreign language must be aware of what type of learner he is and also his aim of learning that particular language. One's attitude towards a particular foreign language culture is of equal importance because it significantly belongs to the language.
One's ability to learn a foreign language also depends on one’s own linguistic background. For example, if one speaks Hindi then it would not be hard for him to learn Urdu because both Hindi and Urdu share the same grammar and most of the basic vocabulary of everyday speech but on the other hand Hindi, Urdu and also the English speakers have a hard time learning the German language because of end number of reasons. In addition to numerous exceptions, there are several rules that are to be followed to learn perfect German. With learning German as a foreign language, the learners remain unfamiliar with its peculiar concepts and it makes them groan with frustration for almost forever. But learning any foreign language has its highs and lows.

Following are the challenges that every language learner goes through -

1. One may have perfect vocabulary and grammar but speaking a foreign language fluently remains always a challenge for language learners.

2. One may speak fluently a foreign language but he hardly understands what the native speakers speak. For some learners, formulating thoughts in a foreign language is easier than to understand what a native speaker is speaking. It is quite harder to understand all the possible combinations of words and phrases that the native uses and it is also because they often speak quickly.

3. The more vocabulary one learns, the more difficult it is to keep all the vocabulary. This problem often occurs by learners if they do not use their vocabulary while framing sentences or revise the vocabulary on a regular basis. One must attempt to incorporate the foreign words in daily conversations and use them in many different contexts in order to never forget them again.

4. For some learners, the progress stops at a particular stage while learning. The reason may also be that after a certain period of time, one does not learn enough or put in major efforts to have strong hold over a language. The more advanced one is, the more one needs to learn in order to make further progress.

5. Some learners often fear to make mistakes. They see mistakes as a disgrace. But the fact is that the one, who does not commit any mistake, is unable to develop his ideas. It is only possible to not commit a mistake if one never tries anything new. But one should not fear to use the language and try new sentence combinations in order to improve the language skills.

6. Most language learners mix up the languages that they know. That happens when one knows two languages, which are the similar to each other. For example, Spanish and French. It also happens when one intensively learns one particular language one day and then suddenly begins to use another language the other day that he has not yet perfectly mastered. Then the words of another language falls in the mind all the time and one have difficulty in formulating a clear thought. For the same reason it is inadvisable to learn multiple languages simultaneously, especially the languages which are similar to each other.

Everyone has some or the other issue while learning a foreign language but for each problem there is a solution. The most important thing is not to give up and keep going. Knowing a foreign language, gives a sense of pride and satisfaction.

Niharika Kohli was an Intern for the summer of 2016 at Modlingua, India's No1. certified translation service providers in New Delhi, India





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