The path to being able to use the English language well is long for most people. Native English speakers have spent their entire life learning English. Most native speakers learn so gradually that they aren't really aware that they are continuously learning!
Non-native speakers normally have a shorter and harder path. Learning English As a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) is something that is hard for most people.
The English language has evolved a lot in the last thousand years. We have adopted structures and words from other languages. There are rules (grammar/form) for how we use English, but there are more exceptions than rules. There are more than a quarter million words in the Oxford dictionary, some of which are obsolete. Knowing the definitions (meaning) of all of those words is not possible. Many of those words were adopted and/or adapted from other language. Pronouncing English words (pronunciation) can be challenging. There are sounds in English that don't exist in other languages. As well, because we have words originating in other language, we use the source language's rules to say the word (think muffin vs buffet, we say the n but not the t). Further, we use different communication styles in different contexts. How you talk to your friends on the basketball court is very different from how you would speak to the Queen of England (say "hey, lady, how y'a doin'" is probably not going to go over very well. Learning what language to use in what context (appropriacy) takes a lot of practice and awareness.
By "core English" we mean the basic foundation you need to communicate in Enlish. This covers your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in a general context. Core English is also called general English in the English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) communittee.
You need your core English ablilities in place before you can start to learn different English language specialization, such as Business English. Therefore, most language institutes reqiure an intermediate or higher general English communication level before you can enroll in specialized English. That is because the specialized English program is intended to build on your general English foundation and not build it.
English Language Elements
There are many different ways to categorize overall English language elements or components. While students may have some awareness of these elements, it is mostly teachers who worry about them. The Cambridge University Certificate of Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) is the "gold standard" for TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) teacher certification. CELTA provides one of the most widely used frameworks, MFP+A. This stands for:
- Pronunciation and
When EFL teachers plan lessons, then normally focus on one or two of the elements. For some types of students, it may provide value if they understand some of the "why" behind their lessons. For most students, they just want to know the "what" of the lesson.
Meaning - the message that the speaker intends to convey, which may vary according to the context, particularly if a structure can be used to perform more than one function.
For many people, meaning is the same as vocabulary. However, as described by the British Council, vocabulary is only a part of meaning. To convey your meaning correctly, you need to very carefully pick the right words for the situation and audience.
Read more articles on meaning.
Form - the arrangement of the language, any rules which govern it, and any special difficulties which it presents.
For many people, form means grammar. As described by the British Council, grammar is a key part of form.
Read more articles on form.
Pronunciation is about how you say words correctly in different contexts. Some of those contexts are British English, American English and Australian English.
Read more articles on pronunciation.
Appropriacy refers to whether a word is suitable for the context it is being used in. It is an important aspect of language but an extremely complex one, as decisions about how to say things depend on understanding exactly what is right for the context and the culture.
Read more articles on appropriacy.