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What are Some Common Linguistic Problems

What are Some Common Linguistic Problems | ITTT | TEFL Blog

As we all know that the process of learning how to speak our first and second or third languages are different, we acquire the first language and learn second and third languages. When we speak our mother language, we can just say it automatically, we acquire our mother language from our environment, before we learn words and sentences, but when we learn a second language, we inevitably need to learn the vocabularies, clauses, sentences, grammar, etc first, then try to translate the second language to our mother language, which is complex. As far as common linguistic problems are concerned, I think there are a lot of problems to consider. Here are some of the most commoner linguistic problems.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ying S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Lack of environment

As a non-native language learner, I know the difficulty of learning non-native languages. The things that we learned from school, which are not likely to be used in daily life, when we go home we don’t need to speak the second language, we do not have to practice second languages with our family members, and also we are used to thinking and speaking our mother language, so there is nothing to push us to have to use non-native language in our daily life, if we do not have a daily requirement, there is no necessity for daily practice.

Also Read: The Main Problems of Teaching Formal and Informal Language


Grammar can be the biggest obstacle for a linguistic learner, because of the different language systems, literal translations are generally wrong. Take English as an example, It has many tenses as well as singular and plural forms, which we don’t have in China, so when we try to speak English, we try to translate our native language to English, meanwhile, we need to be aware of its tense and singular and plural forms, which needs to take a certain period of time for us to comprehend leading to disjointed conversation, this also explains why writing is easier than speaking, and why grammar is so hard for students to learn, in terms of spoken English.

Idioms & Slang

Even when students understand English articles and speaking, there are so many idioms and slang words, which are hardly available in a textbook or other official English material, so it’s hard to understand the real meaning behind what people are trying to communicate with you. For those expressions, living in a target learning language background for several years is required, because only in that situation can you understand their meaning fluently.

Also Read: How to Effectively Use a Textbook During an ESL Course


Many students may wonder as to why their English sounds so bad, while their reading and writing are totally fine, they already know the words, but why can't they understand the words that English native speakers say, the main reason is that when English native speaker speak English, they speak very fast and they may have regional accents that are very different from what they have experienced in a classroom environment.

Low confidence

I know some students who can speak English very well but are not confident enough in themselves to express their skills, they are afraid of making mistakes and of people laughing at them, which of course, in reality, is ridiculous but still in there mind a real concern. They need to conquer their insecurity through practice and willingly exposing themselves to challenges that they can overcome, something as simple as asking a stranger for the time of ordering a meal in public can be daunting first steps but once they overcome them they will feel much more confident in themselves moving foreword.

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