Learning english: pronunciation inconsistencies

My little boy is learning english now (his native language is german) and one of the things he is struggling with when reading are the inconsistencies in the english language when it comes to pronouncing the same vowel differently all the time.

Example: the letter u.
He first started with simple three letter words like run and fun and hug. Now there comes huge. Same letter but pronounced completely different. But this isn’t it: along comes turn. Same letter, three ways to pronounce it. When he is reading now a new word like unit or uneven or urge how is he supposed to know how to pronounce it?

And it’s not just the vowels: take wh.
my son learned the question words when, why, where and …. who. Now stupid him to pronounce it like woo, haha, isn’t it?

You guys (means: native english speakers) make it really tough on the little ones.
Learn spanish or german and you know that a vowel is always pronounced in one way, maybe as a long or short sound but not as a different sound.

I’m waiting for the day when he wants an explanation for me why a word can be pronounced differently regarding to context (read in present or past tense) or that a word he hears also can be written differently regarding to context (reed/read, red/read). Sometimes I wonder how english speaking kids cope with that situation, maybe better since they don’t know that it can be different (means: a more consistent manner in mapping speech to writing).


About mysenf

I'm almost 50 years old, male, was born and raised in Germany, have a wife and children, make a living in IT, and the rest will follow.
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