5 Challenges Only Learners of English will Understand
Why is learning English difficult?
English is not a phonetic language.
So ‘red’ and ‘read’ are pronounced exactly the same in this sentence:
“She read the red book yesterday”
But ‘reed’ and ‘read’ are also pronounced the same, as in this sentence:
She sat among the reeds to read her book.
But ‘read’ in the first sentence is not pronounced the same as ‘read’ in the second sentence!
As a result of this, English spelling is extremely difficult (even for native speakers).
All the vowel sounds here sound the same but are spelt differently
keep seat he athlete happy
Spelling varies, most notably between American and British English.
So the difficult British spelling of ‘through’ is being replaced in America with the simpler spelling ‘thru’.
And English borrows words but doesn’t change their spelling. So we have words like ‘siesta’ from Spanish, ‘villa’ from Italian or ‘ballet’ from French. All this makes learning English spelling even more difficult.
English idioms often have strange and unexpected meanings:
If you hear something “from the horse’s mouth”, you have heard it from an authoritative source. Because we all know that horses are the most trustworthy animals
When we tell someone to “break a leg”, we are wishing them good luck on stage in the theatre.
If someone goes “cold turkey”, it means they stop a bad habit (smoking, drinking or taking drugs) suddenly, completely and without any substitute.
Slang is difficult to use and understand when you are learning English as a second language because it often varies from country to country.
In Ireland we use the word “craic” to mean “news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation”. But the word of the same pronunciation “crack” is slang for a type of cocaine in all English speaking countries!
In London there is rhyming slang or cockney slang. In this type of slang “dog and bone” means phone,
“trouble and strife” means wife, “frog and toad” means road
5. Phrasal verbs:
Phrasal verbs are intuitively understandable to native speakers but are often a nightmare for learners.
Normally “off” means stop or some kind of disconnection, but..
When your alarm goes off (starts making a noise) you have to switch it off.
Usually the participle helps us understand the meaning but “up” can mean start doing and stop doing:
“I took up (started doing) yoga last year, but I gave up (stopped doing) after a month.”