English is probably the world’s most important language not just because of the people who speak it but also because of its significance in international, professional, social, cultural and political activities. That is why many non-native people want to learn English as a second language. Learning English as a second language or a foreign language poses many challenges for non-native speakers. The first language or a native language is normally acquired and learnt through life-experiences right from the birth of a learner and the knowledge of such language comes naturally and spontaneously. But this is not the case with a second language.
The knowledge of second language is the result of conscious learning process that takes place in the class-rooms or somewhere else. While learning English as a second language, non-native learners have to face several problems. Firstly, English is a European language which has some unique characteristics and these unique characteristics hinder non-native speakers from obtaining a strong command of it. Secondly, Non-native learner’s pronunciation of English words gets influenced by his/her mother tongue as a result of which he/she finds it very difficult to pronounce English words accurately.
For example, non-native speaker of English does not make any difference between the consonantal sound /p/ and the aspirated sound /ph/ in the words like pen. Nor does he find any difference between /v/ and /w/ sounds of English. In addition to these, there are many problems which need to be discussed like Conducive Learner-Centric-Environment, audience-fright, lack of confidence, innate and unexplained fear of the English Language, etc. Despite this, some remedial measures (Remedies) can play a vital role in overcoming the above-mentioned problems of a non-native learner.
These remedies include Developing Passion for English, Creating healthy and competitive environment for spoken English, Developing ‘You are Ok, I am Ok’ attitude, vocabulary etc. Here an attempt would be made to focus on exploring Learners’ Attitudinal Challenges, Problems normally faced by the non-native speakers and the remedial measures. Such kind of remedies will definitely prove fruitful for the non-native speakers who want to learn English as a second language. *****
Introduction : English serves as the native language for nearly 400 million people, a second language for another 400 million people and a foreign language to 800 million people across the globe. With the rapid growth of business industry and liberalization proposed by the government of India, the professional communication has acquired a new facet. More and more multi-national companies are looking forward to India for world-class business opportunity. As a result, it has become necessary to learn the language which can be the vehicle for an international communication..
English is probably the world’s most important language not just because of the people who speak it but also because of its significance in international, professional, social, cultural and political activities. It continues to be the world’s standard language and sustain its global popularity. That is why many non-native people want to learn English as a second language Learning English as a second language or a foreign language poses many challenges for non-native speakers.
The first language or a native language is normally acquired and learnt through life-experiences right from the birth of a learner and the knowledge of such language comes naturally and spontaneously. But this is not the case with a second language. The knowledge of second language is the result of conscious learning process that takes place in the class-rooms or somewhere else. While learning English as a second language, non-native learners have to face several problems. An attempt has been made here to discuss the problems and suggest the remedial measures which are as follows:
– 1. Conducive Learner-Centric-Environment: Unlike the learners of native-language, English learners don’t get a conducive environment to communicate their ideas and thoughts in English. Language is a social-cultural-geographical phenomenon. It is in the society man acquires and uses language. But in India, non-native speakers who want to learn English as a second language don’t find natural platform to improve their English communication skills. Without healthy and competitive English environment, foreign learners of English language cannot acquire a strong command over it.
Even in the institutes, learners of English language don’t find English-friendly environment as much as they requires for learning English as a second language. In other words, lack of a conducive environment is an obstacle in learning English as a second language. One must remember that ‘there where is a will, there is a way. ’ The English-friendly environment can be created by the determined learners. The students studying in the same institute may come together and form a group. Start conversing regularly with those who have sound knowledge of English language and find out how they mastered certain language skills.
They should communicate whatever they want only in English. While doing so, they should not think about what others will say. If they continue such learning process, the moment is sure to come when they will definitely find the healthy and competitive environment where learning English as a second language becomes an easy task. 2. Faulty Pronunciation- Sound system of English Language : Children learn the sound system of their first language without much effort during their childhood. But in the case of a second language, learners have to learn a sound-system afterwards.
While learning the sound system of a second language, the influence of their first language (mother-tongue) affects their pronunciation or learning process. As a result, non-native learners of English language find it very difficult to pronounce non-native sounds accurately. For instance, non-native learners of English language cannot differentiate the consonantal sound /p/ from the aspirated sound /ph/ in the word ‘PEN’, though aspiration plays a very significant role in determining the meaning.
When the consonants like /p, t, k/ occur initially in a stressed syllable, they are pronounced with a strong puff of air (aspiration) as /ph, th, kh/. Of the two /p/ sounds in the word PAPER, the first /p/ is aspirated and second /p/ is un-aspirated. So the word PAPER is pronounced as /pheip?/ by the English man but Indians pronounce the same word as /peip?/ which is wrong. So is the case with accentual patterns and word-accent in a connected speech. Non native speakers find it difficult to differentiate between the sound /v/ and /w/ as a result of which the contrast between ‘VEST’ and ‘WEST’ or ‘VINE’ and ‘WINE’ is lost.
Acquiring correct pronunciation of English sounds is not a difficult task. Sounds of a native language are naturally acquired in the child-hood but mastering sounds of a non-native language is the result of a deliberate learning process that needs strong determination. First of all, English learners should develop a passion for English. Once you are passionate about something, you will do it by all means and you will enjoy do ing it. In the beginning one should give importance to the message. One must not be preoccupied with grammatical accuracy.
If you are much worried about grammar and pronunciation errors, you will not develop your fluency. Kill the language without fear. Once you gain the basic knowledge of a language, you must watch English movies regularly and observe the pronunciation of different words and sounds. You must listen to the English news on T. V. or radio. The constant practice will definitely help in obtaining a command over it. You should try to pronounce them in front of a mirror as accurately as they are pronounced by the native speakers.
3. Innate and unexplained fear of English : Many people around the world are overawed by English and English-speaking people. The main reason is the historical. The development and prosperity, enjoyed by the Western world, placed the English speaking people, their countries and cultures on a high pedestal. As a result, many natives have an innate and unexplained fear of the English language, which makes them shy of handling language. They unnecessarily think that English language is difficult to learn for the non-native speakers The English learners must remove such kind of negative thought process from their mind.
Accept yourself as you are. Do not compare yourself with others. No one was born with all the language skills required for effective communication. If it is possible for others to acquire communication skills, it is possible for you too. If learnt properly, nothing is impossible. It is undoubtedly true that the non-native learners of English have to work hard for obtaining command over it. They need to take extra efforts for acquiring the sentence structures, word-accent, intonation patterns and many more.
4. English language – some unique Characteristics : English is a European language which has some unique characteristics and these unique characteristics hinder non-native speakers from obtaining a strong command of it. The learners, who want to learn English as a second language, have a deep influence of their mother-tongue and this influence of native language affects their linguistic competence. Such kind of problems can be solved by going through the books available on English language and grammar. English is the language in which thousands of books have been written.
These books can help in understanding the unique characteristics of this language. 5. Bilingual Method/ Bilingualism: Non-native learners of English language normally think in their mother-tongue and express ideas and thoughts in English that results in non-original variety of language. Thinking in a native language and speaking in a second language may not sound natural. The rhythm and tone of such language-learners gets influenced by that of their mother-tongue and their language becomes unintelligible to the native speakers.
To overcome this problem, one has to develop a passion for learning English. Whatever learners think or do must be done in English. They will gradually get familiarized with the English patterns and speak spontaneously. Thinking in mother-tongue and translating it into English is a bad habit which should be avoided. 6. Self-Confidence : self-confidence plays very significant role in acquiring the knowledge of English language. If learners gain self-confidence while communicating with others, half of the task is over.
Lack of self-confidence gives birth to many linguistic problems. Learners having no confidence commit many mistakes even though they have sufficient knowledge of language. Gaining self-confidence is not a difficult task. If someone does not have self-confidence while speaking, he/she should pretend as if they are fully confident about what they say. Such kind of pretension changes to reality in the course of speaking. Non-native learners can gain self-confidence by going through books written on communication skills and by listening to the news on television or radio.
Watching English movies will help in obtaining the required self-confidence. Conclusion :Learning English as a second language poses some certain challenges for the non-native speakers. Because of the problems mentioned above, a new learner has to face some difficulties in acquiring the knowledge of English language. The remedies suggested in this paper to overcome the problems will definitely help new learners in solving their problems and prove fruitful for the non-native speakers who want to learn English as a second language
– 1. English for Technical Communication, K. R. Lakshminarayanan, SCITECH Publications ,2004. 2. An Introductory Text Book of Linguistics and Phonetics, Dr. Varshney, Student Store, Bareilly, 2005. 3. Speaking in Public, John Bowden, Viva Books Pvt. Ltd. ,2005. 4. Teaching Spoken English in Colleges, B. A. Prabhakar Babu, CIEFL, Hydrabad,1993. 5. How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking, Dale Carnegie, Sulabh Publication Agra, 2007