Why do students find it difficult to learn the English language?

In 2019 I started my career as an English teacher at Allied School. While teaching, my main focus was always on how I could make those children learn the language, for the subject itself was all about the English language. If they come to know the language, the textbooks will definitely become a piece of cake for them. To achieve that goal, I chose the same method to be followed that I followed while trying to become familiar with the language: to read and write a lot.

The right approach

Reading and writing are the first two steps in learning a language. We already know that experience is the base of all knowledge. The more experience one will have of the language, the more comfortable one will feel while using it as one wants to. It takes virtually a month or two to complete a book of 300 to 400 pages. Every day one will have to read a few pages of it and will continue the familiarization with the language. Because a book is written by one author, readers come across same vocabulary again and again and same structures over and over for many days. This automatically results in comprehending the meanings of words and the usage of different structures. Because a book of such a length has all the structures and words required for daily use, it becomes easier to use them, for one has studied them in specific contexts. Next book that one will decide to read will be easier because almost the same structures and words will be repeated. To make this experience even more effective, writing plays a vital role. Writing helps us to convey our own thoughts using the same structures and words that one has read. Different idioms and phrasal verbs get stuck in one’s mind while reading a book, which convey our messages more effectively. Most importantly, this experience is extremely helpful afterwards when one has to write or read anywhere.

For example, one is reading a novel about a family that comprises a father, a mother and two children. The whole story revolves around the family’s daily routine and their interaction with one another. All actions done by an average family at home and every tool, instrument and piece of cutlery used by families at home will be depicted and named in the book. After reading this novel, one will have known most of the names of household items and the use of tenses and idioms in different contexts at home. For example, one might learn this for the first time that we use the phrase, ‘at the dinner table,’ not, ‘on a chair in front of the table,’ to tell someone about where we eat food.

The wrong approach

When I started teaching the same method to my students or when I tell someone who is interested in learning a new language about it, they just shake their heads and demand a shorter way to master it. By this they mean a good course or a good grammar book. This is the very reason we find students buying more than one grammar book to find those golden grammar rules by memorizing which they can become adept at the language. They do not realize this fact that by studying only grammar books, they will end up memorizing only those rules and solving only those exercises given in those books.

People who have this desire to learn a new language, and students in schools and colleges must know that through experience only can they learn a new language, whether it is English or any other one. The best way to gain experience is to read and write because the purpose of a language is communication which is found in books and which is done through writing. A grammar book as a guide is the third step in this process.


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About Author

I am an English lecturer in HED, Punjab.