Many languages have sensible writing systems. If you look at a Spanish, German or Italian word, you can tell how to pronounce it – all you need to know is a handful of basic rules. But English is not one of those languages. English words with almost identical spellings often have different pronunciations, so looking at a word’s spelling doesn’t tell you very much.
In my new article, I try to pinpoint why English pronunciation is so difficult that even native speakers occasionally get in trouble. I put on a horror show of tricky pronunciation examples that will make you abandon all hope of learning to speak English without mistakes. Finally, I offer a ray of hope as I explain what you can do to survive.
Read more in “English pronunciation is a minefield — here’s how to survive”
Przemek Jan 2, 2016 at 12:37 am
Hi. I’m 30 I really want to lean English but recently I’ve started to loose my hope if it’s possible. I applied almost all your hints 1.5 year ago. My reading skills are quite good and I can write acceptably good after longer time for a reflection but my listening skills are awful and improvement is very slow not mention about pronunciation. I can clearly understand almost all youtubers but casual conversation in tv shows and songs sound for me like indistinguishable noises. For me it sounds like a they are omitting half of the words. I read about it a lot of articles. I’m trying to re-watch the same scenes all the time and I can’t find any seance in their “omissions” of a words except a few regular rules. I’m also using Anki flashcards on which I’m learning pronunciation and new words but after initial progress now I feel like I’m stuck. As my compatriot and person who had to had the same problems could you give me some hints how did you overcome this inability?
Brok Jan 25, 2018 at 10:50 am
The most important thing, if we are speaking of English, is that there are many traps, for example homonyms, homophones and homographs; there are also words the fall into the category of ‘confusing’.
Take for example ‘loose’ (pronounced with a soft “s”) and lose, pronounced with a hard “z” ‘looze’. For example, have a look at these two examples: “My play has been very poor recently and I may lose (looze) my place in the team.” Compare “Fasten that horse more carefully, that hitch is loose (soft ‘s’) and he may escape”.
Listening skills can be improved fairly easily, depending upon where you are., Irrespective of the language in question. If you are in conversation with a native speaker, do not be afraid to ask for a word to be repeated; I find that most people are really helpful when asked.
Esteban Aug 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm
Hi, i listened an idea from my teacher who began to learn a year ago.
She learned watching her favorite movies, she chose a character and learned the script, this you practice reading, listening and speaking, repeating the pronunciation.
It’s a hard task, but I think that can work.
Jake Aug 17, 2021 at 2:05 am
Definitely agree with this blog post.