The hardest aspect of learning English as a second language.

We’ve all had our issues with learning English or any language for that matter. This is because there are some aspects that are just hard to learn or deal with. The maddening things in learning English are a lot. But without a doubt, the spelling/pronunciation inconsistency stands out to be the most salient. Every english learner will know instinctively what I’m talking about. It’s the thing that makes you want to rip your hair out.

Let me tell a story about this.

So, you’re learning English when you come across the word ear. It’s pronounced ee-ur. Got it! that’s easy. Ee-ur. I can say that. Then you see dear and you think dee-ur. Same thing for fearfee-ur!

I’m loving this!

Then you encounter this: bear. Now, you’ve never heard this said aloud. You’re reading about it. You casually mention to someone that you’re afraid of grizzly bears:

But of course, you don’t say grizzly bear: you say grizzly BEER!

Now, your interlocutor looks at you like you’re speaking Ancient Martian. You don’t understand why. After all, what you’ve said is perfectly clear. You wonder how someone in America can grow up not knowing what a grizzly bear is.

You’ve never heard of a grizzly BEER?

You don’t understand why he’s looking so puzzled. Then he says, with a mixture of amusement and bemusement: You’re not trying to say grizzly BAIR, are you?”

It rhymes with AIR???

You wonder if he’s pulling your leg.

Are you sure it’s not grizzly BEER? You say EE-UR, and DEE-UR, and FEE-UR, so why not grizzly BEE-UR?

But every time you mention grizzly bear, you send him into a fit of hysterical laughter. You go home dejected.

You think about it that night.

English is stupid. I still think it should be grizzly BEER.

7 thoughts on “The hardest aspect of learning English as a second language.”

  1. English is my mother tongue and I taught English as a foreign language in Israel. Nevertheless, I was nearly caught out by the word “chimera”. In my head, I always pronounced it in a similar way to “cinema”. However, one day, in preparing my English lesson for the next day, in which the word “chimera” appeared, I decided that I really ought to look up the pronunciation of the word. Imagine my surprise when I found that the correct pronunciation was, “\ kī-ˈmir-ə “.
    What a close escape!

  2. I loved this…
    I’m Hispanic. And I am pretty good at reading and writing english.
    Always love reading your posts. They bring up something new and interesting

  3. Watch your grammar. The difficlulies are not “a lot” and english is always capitalized.

    1. I love it when people are policing grammar in the same sentences that they use words like “difficlulies”. 😀

  4. The problem is that English doesn’t just ‘borrow’ from other languages. It follows them down dark alley ways, knocks them down, and then roots through their pockets for loose grammar.

  5. Read “The Chaos” poem by Trenite. His final advice on trying to learn English as a 2nd language… “give it up”!

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