Most common language problems

What are the most common language problems? In the language that you are learning, what gives you the most trouble? Which usage form, or grammar issue, or whatever?What is the most difficult thing for you in the language you are learning?

As concerned Portuguese - that’s the variety of different word forms, especialy verbs :slight_smile:

Russian, that is my native language, is also famous for rich variation of almost any word, but it is Slavic language, not Latin :slight_smile: So that I just don’t have a good habit of, e.g., looking up such words in a dictionary.

Grammar issue, usage form… - these problems could be managed easier as getting fluency by speaking.

When I read a text or watch an English TV-channel I understand 70- 90% of content. But by speaking, especially per telephone, I sometimes can’t say what is actually well known to me. The right phrase comes a bit later. I have tried many of learning methods (reading, listening many times to the same contents, simultaneous listening and speaking…) which are supposed to bring you fluency…

Now I see, the facility to speak to a tutor is crucial and I hope to resolve my problem (fluency) this way.

For French, liaison.

For most of my languages it’s still a question of “getting used to it”. My (passive) comprehension is way better than my active skills in any of them.

I think it’s about time to activate my German - I’ve mostly been reading and listening for quite some time now. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t want to feel like a complete idiot if/when I meet native speakers and barely can keep a basic conversation. This being said, I HAVE had “meaningful” conversations with native Germans, but it takes a lot of effort.

I’d like to take my other languages to the level where my German was a year ago (so, still an idiot in those… :D).

Hi Steve,

You know, I’m learning English, and my native language is German.
“False friends” are sometimes a problem for me like “actual” and “eventually”. The German word “aktuell” is “current” in English and not “actual” for example, and the meaning of the German Word “eventuell” is “possible” and not “eventually”.
The word order is a little bit difficult but the more I hear the better I do.
The prepositions are difficult, because there are not really rules. You have to learn it.
Sometimes I’m struggling with the tenses especially while speaking. When I’m writing, I’m more aware of this problem, but while speaking, I have not enough time to think about the tense, because my main goal is to become fluent and so I focus more on the vocabulary that I need than on the grammar.
And often it is not obvious for me if a noun has a plural “s” or not. The exceptions are difficult, I think.
Not to forget the punctuation. The punctuation is a great miracle for me, even if my tutor explained it to me.
Speakers that speak quickly and with a strong accent are still a problem, but my listening abilities increases too.
It seems that there are a lot of problems, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The more I speak with my tutor, the better I do. And listen a lot of English podcasts helped me to increase all my abilities.


P.S. To be honest I cannot say what the most difficult thing is. I think language learning needs time, and I hope I can master all problems.

And as far as learning English is concerned it is difficult to understand regional accents, it is difficult to learn idioms and phrasal verbs and pronunciation full of surprises. Especially difficult is to pronounce correctly those words that have sounds which we are lacking in Lithuanian language both th’s, -ng endings, silent h’s etc. In some ways I mix w’s and v’s.
Oh, I can go on and on …

With Spanish, I have the same problem with accents and idioms, but I think it’s the colloquialisms that make understanding the accents difficult. I struggle with proper daily usage of the subjunctive. In my classes, it was always just tacked on at the end with a “Voila! Now you can speak like a native!” I think equal emphasis and practice should be encouraged.

To me in Russian the cases are difficult. The aspect of verbs is simply beyond my understanding but I suspect it will gradually become clear through practice. Verbs of motion cause problems bu for now I am ignoring them and focusing in cases.

I believe we learn better from examples than from rules so I am Tagging my saved LingQs by gender and case and then reviewing these examples. This makes me a little more attentive and I am gradually starting to feel the meaning of the cases when I listen, using them correctly will take longer.

I think this can work for other languages as well.

By the way, any and all explanations of Russian grammar that I have read are either self-contradictory, obtuse or even in the best of cases, impossible to understand or remember. This is true of text books and when I google for Russian noun cases or something on the web. I post just one example on my blog. The different explanations never include all the examples of how to use the cases, there are too many, and the do not mention all the prepositions that take the different cases and all the exceptions. So I just tag and hope that it will gradually become clearer.

When I was studying English I found difficult to get used to the syntax. In Greek we have relatively free syntax, it works pretty much like Russian, so the English one seemed very strict for me. Another thing was that English language doesn’t have families of words or better - the language is not based on families of words as much as Greek do. In Greek the roots of the words are very important because all the word formation is build on them, whereas in English this is not too strong.

In Russian I understand the cases when I read a text but I m still not able to use it when i speak. I don’t put much effort to it right now because I think someone can make sense even if I don’t use it correctly. I prefer to focus more on acquiring vocabulary. I also find difficult to use/memorize the perfective and imperfective form of verbs while I speak even though I understand when I should use them. I try to memorize them because it changes the meaning of the sentence, but it doesn’t work so far… The pronunciation causes me some troubles as well. Again, I know how a word supposed to sound but my mouth can’t do it!

It is interesting that in asking this question here and on my blog, the most common problem is vocabulary, words and phrases. That is also my experience, and what I am most motivated to learn.
On the other hand I do find Cases a nuisance in Russian, not for understanding, but when speaking, since I would now like to speak more accurately. Some cases come out correctly, but it is sheer luck. I do find that tagging and then editing phrases that contain different endings, and then reviewing them, does make more conscious when I listen. In other words I not only understand but I also feel the relationship implied by the case.

I am going to try recording lists of, say feminine accusative, or neuter genitive plural etc.