Are all languages as difficult to learn as English is?

I'm not talking about speaking, I'm talking about reading.

My four-year-old loves to read, and it really comes naturally to him. But every book the child owns seems to be filled with words that either follow the exceptions to the rules or that highlight the various sounds the same letters or letter combinations make. "A" says "ah" and "ay" and "a" -- like in "bad" -- or in some ways, an "uh" sound, particularly in our dialect. "Ow" can be like in "wow" or in "row". Random letters, like the "k" in "knock", are there but not heard.

While reading a book based on "Toy Story", my son got REALLY confused about who "W-ah-ah-d-ee" ("ah" being the sound he's learned "o" makes).

I only speak and read English, but I never really realized this. Anyone who is bilingual, either by reading or by speaking, is it this difficult with other languages?

Update:

Explanation: he speaks English only. So do I. It's only just really come to my attention that it's difficult to learn because I'm trying to work with a kid who is using phonics, which fails miserably in a language where almost all letters have at least two sounds.

He's still doing good with it, it's just difficult and a suprise to me, because I don't remember noticing any of these inconsistancies.

Update 2:

HKyson: I speak English. You're telling someone who is seeing a difficulty in their native language that people don't find difficulties in their native languages.

Update 3:

Zippey: Excellent point. My older son is six, and is learning to read with a different system that uses phonics, context, pictures, repetition and patience. It seems to be working well, and will make it easier for him to have good comprehension, because since phonics began being almost exclusively taught. We're using the same system to teach his little brother.

We're also focusing on teaching him common combinations (sh, ch, th, ow, oa, ou, oo), to help him be able to use the phonics he already knows.

Update 4:

Having a stupid day today.

Should be:

"...because since phonics has been almost exclusively used to teach children to read, test results show reading comprehension has gone down A LOT!"

16 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    English is actually one of the easiest languages to learn. Admittedly it does have a confusing spelling system, but that's not unique to English. English does have a large vocabulary based on many languages, but the grammar is really simple. Currently the spelling is not phonetic, and I doubt it ever will be because there are so many English dialects, and the silent letters and weird spelling reflects English's rich history. Don't try to fool your son into believing spelling is phonetic but merely a rough guideline. The sooner he becomes familiar with the spelling exceptions the better.

  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    1

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  • Nancy
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    English

  • 1 decade ago

    I've studied a few languages, and find the romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian) much easier & more logical than English. I find German & Russian to be harder than English because of the declensions. And I never did get the hang of guessing the right vowels in Hebrew & Arabic!

    But a 4-year-old is naturally wired to learn language easily (whatever language that may be). I'm no child development expert, but I'd suggest just reading out loud to him some more while he watches the words. He'll pick it up from listening & watching without having to sound out the individual letters each time.

    In other words, let him absorb the sounds instead of having to generate the sounds himself, and his brain will automatically internalize the connection between how the words look & how they sound (including all those exceptions that arise).

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  • 1 decade ago

    If you think about it, im sure that everyone who originally learned English first would think that English is easy. But to us, when we look at a different language, like Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, etc...we probably think, how in the world could they learn that language. It looks so complicated and all. But if you think about it, people who originally started out with a different language than English, would probably look at English (and all the other languages they dont know) very hard to learn and understand and wonder how could their language be that complicated to understand?

    English is actually hard in a way if oyu think about it. Like one responder said, there are lots of rules and exceptions to those rules that make it complicated. And there are probably rules and exceptions to the other languages too! maybe some may be more complicated, others may be less complicated, only the people who know how to speak that certain language would know!

  • 1 decade ago

    Good question! I speak French, English and German and have studied a good few other languages too and yes, there are exceptions to rules in every language.

    English is crazy when you think about all the different spellings and silent letters etc but really we are not the only ones who have so many complications in our language. In fact there are more languages that are more difficult and crazy than English than there are simpler languages.

    Good luck to your son!

  • 1 decade ago

    English is without a doubt one of the hardest languages because of all the exceptions to the rules. You can see the same combination of letters and pronounce them different read - as in "I am going to read this book"

    vs

    read - as in "I have already read that book"

    I took German, Spanish, French, and Russian. One thing about those languages is that when you learn how to pronouce a combination of letters, they are pretty much always pronounced the same.

  • 1 decade ago

    English is not that hard to learn even though I'm not a native of that language.I also speak Spanish and German.Aside from that I can speak Mandarin,Korean,Japanese or Nihongo,Tagalog,Sebuano,Illonggo and Hiligaynon.I think I had an advantage because In my country there were so many dialects that were introduced to us since we were young.So being exposed to a lot of different languages really help you a lot in learning a particular language easily.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    i speak two languages and have never had a problem with the reading part. i've always known how to spell words i just figure out my own pattern and it always works. i also don't do it phonetically because that doesn't work in english, obviously. i've just always been able to pick up how words are supposed to be spelled. i am currently learning french and i already know the patterns that the teacher is always pointing out. it just depends on the person and what their abilities in a certain area,such as languages, are.

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