Pair, Pear, And Other Reasons English Is Hard

Learning any new language is difficult, especially for older kids and adults, and English comes with enough pitfalls to make it hard even for native speakers. From grammar requirements that always seem to have an exception to non-phonetic spellings, English is a beast that requires years of study and practice to tame.

Spelling Schmelling

You know who didn't care about spelling? Those who developed English language rules over the years. Numerous words don't look at all like they sound: Why doesn't through sound like rough, for example? Why doesn't one of those words end with an f?

If random letter and sound combinations weren't enough to throw off English-language learners, the dictionary offers up another trap: The infamous homophone. The language is peppered with words that look different and mean different things, but they sound the same. Pair and pear; their, they're and there; and too, to and two are just some examples of like-sounding words ready to pounce on unexpected learners.

Word-Order Wonkiness

When learning English online or through other distance-learning programs, it may be difficult to catch onto the natural order of words used by native speakers. Even in a classroom environment, word order is difficult for learners because native speakers can't always explain the extremely subtle rules that they subconsciously employ in speech. For example, most speakers can't really explain why they say "a pretty little dress" rather than "a little pretty dress," but almost any native speaker will use the first order naturally.

Poor Examples Abound

Online learners have to pay close attention to their lessons, because poor examples of English abound on the Internet. It would be easy for online learners to pick up bad habits, and it might be difficult for students to understand the difference between Internet and text speak and formal English.

Spoken Stress is Stressful to Learn

Native English speakers use a certain cadence, naturally stressing parts of words, phrases and sentences. While rules exist for some verbal stresses, most speakers couldn't tell you anything about that. They simply know how to speak. Students who are learning English online should practice with native speakers in social settings on a regular basis to figure out how to properly place stress when speaking.

A Thesaurus in the Wrong Hands

As with any language, synonyms in English can trip up nonnative speakers. English synonyms are especially tricky because of the diverse history of the language and the reliance on context to fully define some phrases. For example, you watch both movies and television. You might say that you are going to see a movie, but you wouldn't normally say you are going to the living room to see television.