Fri. Apr 19th, 2019


For an African, English is a foreign language and what complicates matters further is the fact that it is not quite related to most African tongues. And so it takes Africans several or many years not just to learn the language but to become fluent in it.
Now experts are agreed that mastery of a language’s grammar isn’t enough to make one proficient in it. Thus, the best way of learning English- to be able to speak it and write in it fluently- is the same way we learn our first tongue.
How do children acquire their first language? They listen to it again and again- as their parents, guardians or those around them engage them in a one-way conversation- until they become familiar with it and begin to understand it. Then they begin to learn to speak it and with time they become fluent in it.
That is the same way we learn English and other foreign languages. It is by exposure. We begin by exercising the listening skill, then the speaking skill, then the reading skill and, finally, the writing skill. That is why the school curriculum lays emphasis on these four language skills.
That is why, in the English lessons, teachers have to attend to oral work- where they teach the language patterns and structures, vocabulary and verbal skills(verbal communication); reading- where they train the learners to be fluent readers who are able to read silently as well as aloud; and writing- where the learners are trained in the writing skill. That is why, in education, there can be no proper teaching and learning without the recommended course books; there can be no proper teaching and learning without proper syllabus coverage.
One of the challenges we learners of English as a foreign language are faced with is that we tend to think in our mother tongue and as such we end up constructing sentences that cannot make sense to native English speakers. What we need to overcome this challenge is exposure. We should listen to good speakers of English and read plenty of books written in good English.
Here, good role models come in handy. Our first teachers, our parents and guardians, and our second teachers, school teachers, should be good role models in terms of spoken and written English. Unfortunately, in Kenya, like other African countries, we do not have many good role models and that is why our performance in English has not been very good.


  1. The English language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.Learning new vocabulary is very interesting for fresh learners. This post is interesting about the challenges of learning English which is faces by everyone. –
    David Nu