Hello everyone. As we all know, English orthography (spelling) can be quite ridiculous and frustrating, for natives and learners alike. But I wanted to know how much of a barrier it really is for someone learning English. Does it make it more difficult to learn new words or remember how a word sounds? Does it make the overall learning process more difficult? Or is it not a big deal? I’m very curious to hear your thoughts and experiences. Thanks!
As for me, I encounter a lot of words while reading that (1) I know but have never heard spoken, or (2) are entirely new words, and in both cases, I have no clue how they should sound!
En español, (si hay hispanohablantes que aún están aprendiendo inglés)
Hola a todos. Como ya sabemos, la ortografía de inglés puede ser ridícula y frustrante para aprendices y incluso nativos. Pero quería saber si es realmente una gran barrera para alguien que aprende inglés. ¿Hace que sea muy difícil aprender palabras o recordar cómo suenan? ¿Hace que el proceso de aprendizaje sea más difícil? O tal vez, ¿no es ningún problema? Espero vuestras pensamientos y experiencias sobre esto. ¡Muchas gracias!
Todavía encuentro muchas palabras cuando leo que (1) las sé pero nunca he oído o (2) son palabras nuevas, y en ambos casos, no tengo ni idea cómo pronunciarlas!
In my opinion, the English spelling is rather difficult only for two first levels of learning. After that your brains remember two forms of the most of words: how to write and how to pronounce. Of course, you can make some mistakes in writing and pronunciation, but they ate not so crucial. Phrasal verbs and natural usage of words continue to be difficult even in advanced level of English command.
Recently I learned the summary of the history of the English language by listening to the VOA special English programs (Of course, I lingqed the words and phrases in them). They were very interesting and easy to understand because of the simple explanation. I can recommend them to all English learners.
I thought that one of the complexities of the English language including spelling, pronunciation and so on is due to its own history that it has been influenced by a lot of countries and various languages. According to the program, the origin of the English language called Proto-Indo-European was spoken an area north of the Black Sea in southeastern Europe and has developed into Modern English through a lot of influences mainly by various languages in Europe.
As prigby418 says, the spelling of English words is sometimes difficult for me. I think that for most of the Japanese people not only the spelling but also pronunciation and distinguishing between the similar sounds such as [r] and [l] is difficult because the Japanese language has fewer sounds. English has many sounds that the Japanese language doesn’t have. So at first I didn’t know some of the vowels and consonants and I even couldn’t predict how to pronounce the words when I saw them for the first time. Now I have gotten used to the relationship between spelling and sounds, it is easier to predict how to pronounce and how the word sounds. As I read and listen to English, I get to know many exceptions as well. But even now, I cannot learn words only by listening them. In other words I try to see the words themselves to confirm how to spell them, especially when the word has many syllables or certain sounds that I am not good at. I don’t still have enough confidence that I can think of correct spelling every time I hear the word for the first time. So what I want to say is because of the weird relationship (Of course, for non-natives) between spelling and sounds at least for me, learning English words is a tough job, but I am on the way of getting used to them and the relationship between the spelling and sounds are much more familiar than before. The more familiar to me the relationship between spelling and sounds has become the easier the task of increasing vocabulary bas become. Now the best way to be familiar with words is for me to read, listen to and review them whether they are the native language or the target language learned. I love LingQ because I can do all of them at LingQ.
English spelling may be illogical in many ways, and it’s not uncommon to hear that “English is one of the most difficult languages” (for this very reason), even from native speakers… This being said, I regularly pick up vocabulary from movies and guess accurately how the words are spelled.
Similar to Jeff, I have no trouble with spelling in English. Certain sounds just go with certain words, the context generally provides the correct form. In German I now have to check my writing because of their recent, to my mind wholly unnecessary, spelling reform(s). Other scriptforms or even other European languages do present a certain challenge, though! Spanish spelling is slightly easier for me than French is. We just have to get used to it, as Evgueny said earlier.
Thanks for sharing, folks. I’m glad to hear that it isn’t too much of a hassle for learning. It does seem like there are a lot of spelling patterns that can be learned and used to infer the sounds of other words, however illogical they are! I started thinking about this after reading about attempts at reforming English spelling. After trying to come up with some ideas of my own for how to change it, I realized that it would be nearly impossible to come up with a neutral spelling system; there’s just so many ways to pronounce the same words, even within the same accent! Plus, the idiosyncrasies of spelling kind of contribute to the character of Engish, at least for me.
@Jeff: That must be why people also say Spanish is the “easiest” to learn. I certainly found the near-perfect spelling system quite a blessing for learning!