The English language is the most popular and widely used language in the world. However, it is seen that many school going children have difficulty in learning the proper pronunciation and spelling of English words. This is because though the English vocabulary and grammer can be learned with relative ease, the pronunciation and spelling of English words is confusing and difficult for learners as it does not appear to conform to a definite formula or rule, especially its vowels.
Take the letter ‘U’ for example. ‘PUT’ is to be pronounced somewhat like ‘P-oo-t’ . However, ‘U’ in BUT’ is not to be pronounced as ‘Boot’;’it’s more like ‘e’ as in ‘Her’. Likewise, ‘I’ is pronounced as ‘e’ of ‘Her’ in ‘Sir’, but as ‘ee’ in ‘Will’. Confusing indeed for primary class students of English,whose mother tongue is not English.
There is a joke that considering this vast variance and irregularity in the pronunciation as well as spelling of English words, the word ‘fish’ can also be spelt as ‘ghoti'(‘gh’ being pronounced as ‘f’ in ‘tough’; ‘o’ as ‘ee’ in ‘women’,and ‘ti’ as ‘sh’, as in ‘mention’!
Therefore, learning of pronunciation and spelling needs to be simplified at the primary level by devising some sort of learning aid for it. Having been a student of French in school, I have observed that pronunciation of French words is much simpler, though both the languages use the same, Roman script. I also saw that the same is simpler because of aid in the form of guiding marks or ‘accents’ employed for the reading of each letter, e.g. Where an ‘accente grave’ (right oblique line) is placed over the letter ‘a’, it is to be pronounced as ‘aa’ only,while ‘accent aigu/acute’ (left oblique line) over it makes it due for pronunciation as in ‘an’,not as ‘aa’,or in any other way.
Many standard English dictionaries,like the Oxford Dictionary,too, have a method of indication or marking that can also be utilised by English texts,alternatively, for facilitating reading with the right pronunciations, and consequently, writing words with the correct spelling, at least at the Primary level.
This system of marking words to indicate their pronunciation in English text books will, as in French texts, make the learning of pronunciation and spelling of English words much simpler,in my opinion.