Some tricky problems in learning English [Archives:2005/814/Education]

February 7 2005

By Abdullah Ali Nashwan, and
Ahmed Mohammed Nashwan

We all have problems with the correct sequencing of 'i' and 'e' when they occur adjacently in words such as “Neighbor”.

These are homonyms – words which are pronounced the same way, but spelled differently such as site-sight, there-their, two-too-to, etc. Voicing difficulties are very common among ESL students which pose a considerable difficulty . Such as the voicing contrasts between /b/ and /p/, /v/ and /f/ etc.

We know that there are over 250 articulatory sounds. However, the learners are usualy taught the use of 42 'pure' sounds in English and 71 'common phonograms, such as er, ir, ur, dar, sh, ee, ay/al, ow/ou, ao/au, oy/io, eigh/igh… etc.

We have to find out answer to these problems, and we need to know various reasons which lead us to misspell and what kinds of words are misspelled frequently.

We must also find out the strategies which can make students good spellers in English. They should be proficient in reference skills such as :

checking a dictionary for the correct pronunciation, checking for the meaning and history of a word, learning basic spelling rules, practicing spelling the word to themselves as they close the dictionary.