Pros and Cons of Learning English as a Second Language


Studying languages is a great work which directly takes into account the work of memory in its ability to associate signs into difficult non-linear structures with the purpose of making some common notes in comparison with the native language. It is not a great secret that, as a German proverb says: ‘the number of languages which a man knows contemplates the number of men incorporated in a human being’, that the contemporary framework of peoples’ needs props up against learning English as a foreign language (EFL), or as a second language (ESL). In this respect the issue of bilingualism matters. It is so due to a diversified background of many countries reckoned with an individual historical development. The paper is dedicated to outline the advantages and limitations of learning English as a second language. The structure of it is divided into to parts respectively in a form of critical discussion.

Though, the necessity to learn English is grounded on the fact that the policy of British colonization in past provoked the emergence of multinational societies all around the world. Such tendency also outlined the presence of English language in many countries. Since that time English is considered to be Lingua Franca of the world community. Many developed countries of today are shaped with the need to cooperate and communicate in a bilingual society. Among them are: Canada, Singapore, Wales, Israel, Switzerland etc.


According to different observations provided by a range of competent linguists it is quite advantageous for a person to master English as a second language. Nevertheless, it is an additional touch to the personal experience background of an individual. It is also an opportunity to provide communication with the rest of the society speaking in English. Thus, the advantages of people learning ESL which were analyzed on the example of Canadian students presuppose:

  • Cognitive and linguistic advantages;
  • Outperformance on verbal and nonverbal tests on intelligence;
  • Better readings in academic achievement tests;
  • Better competence in the first language (French) (Schein and Stewart 124).

Such advantages may be achieved, of course, when the second language is respected. On the other hand, it may cause the backward movement in an intellectual coloring of individuals. Moreover, such degradation is not surprising when posing the negativism in studies. Every negative attitude toward definite activities may lead to nothing. In fact, here is one of the disadvantages that “it may take several years before the effects of first-language instruction transfer to second-language reading” (McLaughlin 135).

Opposite side of learning ESL provides an outlook on the personal framework of people in age, history, affiliations. In this case it is difficult to learn ESL when one of the major parts of the social protests against it. Moreover, while attempting to learn a specific field of language one should be aware of it in terms of first language. Thereupon, “subject-area instructors must be sensitive to the language limitations of second language students” (Rosenthal 194). In other words, the correlation between two language structures should be taken into account with possible similarities.


To sum up, the problem of learning English as a second language stands today as vital for societies with bilingual distinction. In this case the urge for learning ESL is grounded on statistical data about improved capabilities of people studying ESL in contrast with those who are monolingual. The field of limitations presupposes more time prospects and the ability of any teacher or instructor to relate first-language structure toward second-language peculiarities in organization.

Works cited

Schein, Jerome Daniel and Stewart, David Alan. Language in motion: exploring the nature of sign. Contoocook, NH: Gallaudet University Press, 1995.

McLaughlin, Barry. Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: School-Age Children. Ed. 2. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987.

Rosenthal, Judith W. Handbook of undergraduate second language education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000.

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