Why is English so hard? Don’t ask native speakers because they don’t think it is. Don’t ask fluent second language speakers because they might feel superior.
Don’t ask a teacher because they might blame the student. Don’t ask a public school because it’s just the scores that are important. Don’t ask a tutoring school because it’s just the tuition that’s important. Don’t ask a student because most don’t bother to.
If I may, I’ll refer to Mr. Edwin Perez, Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:21 am GMT. He posted his opinion on why English is so hard by pointing out that even the standard rule about long vowels doesn’t always work. “Dive, dine, guide, bide, abide, bike, Nike, site, but GIVE???” And what does he think about the inconsistencies of English spelling? “Y wish enywan cud giv mi the the cleerest and simplest reeson tu biliv that thouz spelings ar lojikul. Other lenguejes ar mor koherent and this kurrent sistem is full ov wat Y koll idiotidity with oll ur duw/due rispekt. Y hope u kynda get the ydea ov wat Y meen.”
And here is the response from Mr. Damian in Edinburgh Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:01 am GMT. “Firstly, is some kind of sanity going to return to this otherwise sensible Forum? I wonder what prompts some people to act in this way and ruin things for others but I reckon it's just one of the many pitfalls on the internet.... This thread......."Why IS English pronunciation so irregular?" ......because it IS! It's just the way it is, and that's how it has developed over the years since its inception. It's part of the fun of our English Language, and when you finally come to terms with, and learned, all it's seemingly unnaccountable idiosyncracies and inconsistencies then that's the point when you realise that you have mastered it. No reforms are necessary and no way will they ever be implemented...at least not here in the land of its birth....well, The English part of it anyway. Live with it....get over it......”
Oh great. For all you second language learners struggling in your English class, “Live with it and get over it.” If you can’t follow the rules, you are mentally ill and we will call you dyslexic. Until recently, I thought dyslexia meant that you saw letters reversed making it difficult to read. Pardon the references to generic online definitions, but one site states dyslexia as, “a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.” Dyslexia is not a term for those who cannot read. Dyslexia is a label for those who have difficulties learning to read. If learning to swim was not easy for you, you had a disorder.
The text admits that the disorder might not be just in the learner, but in the teacher or the methods. “Children with dyslexia are often labeled as treatment “resisters,” as they do not seem to progress with even the most intensive and careful instruction.” Likewise, heavy people resisting a weight loss regime of the most intensive and careful instruction have 1) an eating disorder 2) a weight loss disorder 3) a quack disorder.
The answer should be in the next sentence, “The failure to respond to traditional intervention is so common among dyslexic students that it is now accepted as a valid alternative to formal diagnostic testing.” All this says is that those who have difficulty reading have difficulty reading. Furthermore it does not rule out that the “traditional intervention” at hand is not working. With no “valid alternatives to diagnostic testing” the easiest thing to do with people we don’t understand is to stamp them with a label. Consequent burning at the stake is optional.
But all is not so grim. The description continues, “They do well on tests of phonetic decoding, but have difficulty with irregular words, indicating a visual or surface type dyslexia. Phonics, based teaching won’t help that group because their reading barriers lie elsewhere.” This is quite revealing since the reading barriers are elsewhere and not necessarily within themselves. If they do well on phonetic decoding, they can differentiate sounds. If they find irregular words difficult, they are quite normal. Adding yet another category such as, “visual or surface type dyslexia” is another excuse for saying, “We don’t know.”
The final paragraph, almost as a footnote, admits that people can learn to read, but may need to use, “alternative mental strategies, relying more heavily on right hemisphere and frontal regions of their brains.” Note that most game changing innovations are first called, “alternative mental strategies” and using different parts of the brain should not be considered compensatory. “One long-term study of teenagers found that development of such “compensatory” brain pathways was the only distinguishing characteristic that could accurately predict which students would later become capable readers.” This translates as, “itz abowt taim U ghet it. Yor wun-cize-fits-aughl suhlooshun kumz phrum yoor oughn wrait phoot. It might even be possible that that shoe doesn’t fit anyone at all.