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I think English pronunciation is probably the most difficult aspect ... in English that don't exist in Italian Spanish or French.

Well, after mastering the sounds of Latvian and German, English has only the two versions of "th" to worry about. The "v" and 'W" distinction also gave me some problems.

How about the vowel sounds? They are the main distinguishing feature of English dialects, and they are often what makes an otherwise fluent foreigner stand out. I've mentioned before my Slav speaking friends who find the distinction between 'sheet' and '***' impossible, but the diphthongs are even harder: as you may know, the Australian pronunciation of the 'ej' sound (grey, bay, weigh) sounds closer to BrE and AmE 'aj' (white, my), but most older Italian migrants here cannot distinguish, so their 'today' comes out to us as 'to die', which is not quite what we say; ie our 'today' might sound a bit like 'to die' to you too, but you would quickly hear the differences and be able to accommodate.

Sure, there are consonant problems: the Russian dark L, the tendency for Italian and Spanish speakers to want a vowel in front of certain consonant clusters, the apparent impossibility for a Frenchman or German to say 'th', but I still think that mastering the vowels is what finally gets an English speaker from a foreign country accepted.
Rob Bannister
Well, after mastering the sounds of Latvian and German, English ... The "v" and 'W" distinction also gave me some problems.

How about the vowel sounds? They are the main distinguishing feature of English dialects, and they are often what makes ... a bit like 'to die' to you too, but you would quickly hear the differences and be able to accommodate.

No, no problems there, as the sounds are not new they just don't match what the written words would suggest for Latvian (or German). Latvian and German have several sounds left over after accounting for those required for English. I have never had any problems duplicating any language sounds I've encountered.
Latvian has a couple of diphthongs not yet properly duplicated by any English-speaker I've met. They are "ie" and "o". Yes, "o" it is approximated by "ua", but not very well.
Sure, there are consonant problems: the Russian dark L, the tendency for Italian and Spanish speakers to want a vowel ... but I still think that mastering the vowels is what finally gets an English speaker from a foreign country accepted.

Well, Russians generally tend to have a "dark" or "heavy" quality to their English, unless they learn it while still very young.

While I don't speak Russian, my dad taught me all the difficult sounds of it when I was still very young. No problem.
I have been unable to get any English-speaker to duplicate the Latvian softened versions (marked with appropriate diactritics) of g, k, l, n (that one is not so hard), and r (that one is so difficult that the Russians, after occupying Latvia, decided to eliminate it from the alphabet).

For German I had to learn a couple of the vowels with umlauts, but otherwise there was nothing new (oh, I forgot the guttural "r", but one can get by without it, pretending to be from Ostpreussen). I learned it, though.
Skitt (in Hayward, California)
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G'day mate!Just to give my point of view as a french native speaker, I think the English language is pretty easy compared to ours on many grounds. First, for the verbal system, English does not contriguate the verbs French does, however you have modal auxiliaries which are a bit tricky to understand (actually you can not really seize the difference between some of them as long as you have not done some linguistics), as for the irregular verbs, I'd rather learn 3 different forms of a verb than learn 4 different "modes" (indicatif, subjonctif, impératif, conditionel) with different tenses in each (passé composé, passé simple, imparfait for the indicatif, or conditionel 1ere et 2eme forme...) moreover, unless you really intend to "study" english as a language you don't really need to know more than 150 of them.

Phrasal verbs (get down, turn over, get along...) make it some much easier to get the meaning even though you don't have the exact meaning in mind, while in french it's like: 1 meaning = 1 verb, in English, "get" for instance can make: get down, get up, get off, get along, get on... once you've undestood the meaning of the post position you can pretty much guess the meaning of the verb.That's for the verbal system, now as to the word system (lexic) your system of derivation (use : useful : useless : uselessness...) makes it easier to undersand the meaning of a word as well. As for the tricky words, those that sound the same but are written differently, you're actually first told their spelling and their grammatical function (out of context) before using them, so I don't have any difficulty spelling them right, while I've got a couple of American friends who don't seem to make the difference between "they're/their/there" and "there having so much fun!" this is the kind of mistakes a foreign speaker just can't make (well, i've seen a lot of exceptions actually!) since native speakers learn the llanguage "orally" when their "babies" and internalize it while foreign speakers learn it first written (to get the image of the word) and then might use it orally.
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oups! i guess i got caught in my own trap *native speakers learn the llanguage "orally"
How about the vowel sounds?

Yes, I would say that for those who speak romance languages, vowels create a much bigger problems than consonants do . The vowel sounds that you find in pin, pun, pan, for example, don't exist in Italian, French or Spanish.

gfc
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A little off topic. Is there a simple introduction to French grammer à la Chomsky?
Jim