Is English easy for most non-native English speakers?

I was just wondering, and this question is both for anyone currently learning English now and for those who have already learned English to a fluent level, has English been easy for you to learn?

What I mean by that is, especially for those who are learning it right now, do you think Englsh is a language so easy for you, that you are confident that you will become fluent in it after several months?

I hope this question doesn´t sound stupid in any way, but I was just wondering about this, that´s all.

I think that englisht is not so easy to learned. For me is very difficult to remember the irregular verbs and the way how to construct a phrase. Sometime is difficult to understand and separate the word when a native language is speaking. Thank you for the question. You gave me the courage to write in English

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IMHO - English is simple If you compare it with another languages, but when you have to learn Eng. - it’s difficult :confused: For me understanding of speech is the most difficult.
I was confident that I would be fluent in Eng after several months…
After I was confident that I would be fluent in Eng after several years…
And now I am not confident that I will be fluent in Eng at all…

Pretty hard. The thing is, the gap between what you learn in school or in books (the “standard” or “official” English) and the stuff you hear in the real life can be quite wide; wider than in other languages. I think this is because of the irregularities, exceptions, and the fact that it is not a very phonetic language, that makes it easier to suffer changes or variations when spoken by “real life” people (natives) in real life situations.
To me, English has been almost as if I had two learn two different languages: the “standard one” and that spoken in real life (full of phrasal verbs, slang, differences in structures and pronunciation, etc.)
I have to say that this situation is not as bad as it is in French for example, where I find this problem even bigger than in the English language, but it is indeed one of the hindrances I have had with the latter.
I spent too much time in the “book’s” English, being able to communicate with another foreigner (who also learned and spoke “book’s” English so we both spoke the same language) or being able to watch a documentary (where presenters speak impeccably), or obtaining great notes at school, but when it came to watching a movie or trying to understand natives speaking to each other… ugh! I asked to myself: what have I been studying all this time?
So I decided to shift strategies and I started to plunge myself into that “other” language (much more difficult by the way) I mean: “real life English”.


Hey, the gap between textbooks and the language used in real life is huge in ANY language. Textbooks (+audio) are full of phrasal verbs, irregularities, accents, voices in whatever language; it’s just that they present a very limited sample. Beginners seem to think there’s only one way of saying things, almost as if there’s a one-for-one “solution” to each thought, and become puzzled when a native says something differently, even if it’s just a basic greeting.


I am a novice . I’m learning English feel very confused. write there words I find a dictionary to long time! 》<。 。>《

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I have been told many times by people in the German speaking world that English is extremely easy. I sometimes get told these nonsense stories about how people learned English. One German woman, who speak amazing English, said she learned all her English at some two week summer camp when she was 16. I had a German teacher who said that he wanted to learn English, he did no studying at all (no grammar, no learning vocabulary). All he did was go to England for a couple of months and travel around speaking to people.

I would be interested to know why people seem to think it is so easy. It is certainly not because the language is very easy. Maybe it is easy in comparison to other languages. I assume this apparent ease mostly comes from the large amount of exposure that people get from films, music, television, and the internet in the German speaking world.

Maybe these people had extensive experience with English aside from what they told you?

“Oh, I learned all my English at a 2 week summer camp.” (Without mentioning the 4 years of semi-immersion in a special English/German school)

English doesn’t seem like it would be that hard for Romance and Germanic language speakers, but the spelling and rich phonology would seem to present a lot of problems, right?

I think they probably have extensive experience with English that they don’t consider part of the learning process, such as relatively constant passive exposure to English, or time spent studying in school where they didn’t work hard and assume they barely learned anything. Then when they decide they are going to learn English, or suddenly need to learn English, they think of themselves as beginners when in fact they have a huge passive knowledge, make very rapid progress, and come to think that English is really easy.

I have an English friend who has been teaching English in Austria for several years who says that she basically never gets real beginners in her beginners classes. I guess this is probably the reason, but I don’t really know.


I’d imagine English is pretty easy.

You don’t need very much of a knowledge of English vocabulary, and definetly not of grammar to say a lot of things.

Just take a look at Wikipedia

All you need to know is apparently 850 words and you can say a lot. This is a count of words after inflection, other than number, I believe.

I suspect that is true for many languages. I remember having conversations in Chinese when I was in China. I suspect I knew less than 50 words.

How many words do you need to understand English?

What kind of conversations did you manage to have? I just finished a semester of Elementary Chinese and according to a count of the textbook’s glossary I know 150 words.

In the oral final exam I was able to tell my teacher that I like Chinese food and that my dad is a doctor. Also she was pleased to find out that I have two cats.

Not much of a conversation of course. It was made possible primarily by the unbelievable patience of the people I spoke to.

Well, you can communicate with 150 or 850 words all right but you’re not going to be able to talk about the finer points about Net Present Value, Value and Growth Stocks, or the complex creation of Iraq out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire. Heck, you won’t be able to say things like, “I went to the dentist and he removed my cavity with a drill and local anesthetic.”

Even the word “Dentist” probably wouldn’t be in those 150-850 words, right?

Aside: believe it or not, depending on how different the target language is from your starting language, knowing the names of the damn countries is kind of hard.

English, like any language, is a language easy to speak poorly but hard to speak well.

Thank all of you for the information. Very useful indeed. This conversation help me to pass over writing barres. I can understand almost 80% to content of writing text in every field(I guess), story, economy, politic, health (not to much), social issues, ecc. I have difficulty in writing and listening. Lets hope that in the future I can reach my goal’s. :slight_smile:

English pronunciation can be rather confusing indeed :slight_smile:

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In fact, if you follow some advice from Steve (read and listen a lot, especially stuffs you like a lot), progressively, without too much effort, you’re going to manage.
Speaking is like training your hands doing things (playing piano, writing with the other hand, typing on keyboard, etc) : you just need to practice a little bit every day and get a lot of input the remaining time (listening content, etc).
Another way to check your pronunciation : speak briefly with a native and record this conversation. Then, afterwards, review this conversation.
And, like Brian Tracy says in his books “Eat That Frog” : write your goals and set deadlines, it will motivate you. In fact, reading books about self-development could improve your English, too (that’s what I’m doing at the moment). You can find interesting courses (The Great Courses) with transcript (if you like to study some subjects in depth).
Internet/Web can give you a lot of opportunities to immerse yourself in the English language : the difficulty is to limit yourself and try some “deep learning” (few contents listen and read a lot of times => advice from A.J. Hoge from Effortless English Club).

Good luck in learning English, and don’t forget : think about your goal, each day, and have fun :slight_smile:

@mopoulpo Well I am a native English speaker lol but thanks anyways.

In addition, yes it definitely is like learning an instrument. Practice makes perfect. I am a musician too by the way and play about 10 instruments. :wink:

Well, I’m a Portuguese speaker, so I don’t think that the part of reading is difficult for me. There are many words that are common to both languages. The worst part is the listening and speaking because the way the natives speak are very different the way they write. So maybe I’ll be fluent in reading and listening. Speaking and writing are harder for me.

The great benefit, of course, is the ubiquity.

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