EFL lessons can take an unexpected descent in to abject confusion and infuriation for reasons that don’t cross the minds of native English speakers. And surprisingly, these towering levels of disorientation are often caused by the most seemingly harmless little quirks of the English language.

But it’s not them. It’s us. So, students taking EFL lessons can also take heart. And they’re in esteemed company in their bafflement. Chicagoan author and linguist Arika Okrent even wrote a book about the subject, entitled ‘Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through and Dough Don’t Rhyme – and Other Oddities of the English Language’.  

Here’s just a few examples of the foibles of English that send shockwaves across EFL lessons  nationwide.

What are the Key Culprits for Causing Bamboozlement in EFL Lessons? 

English language oddities causing downward spirals of discombobulation include –

  • “Sew and new”They should rhyme in theory. But they don’t in practice.
  • “Kernel and colonel”They shouldn’t rhyme in theory. But they do in practice.
  • ough”This befuddling four letters can be pronounced as ‘aw’ (bought or thought), ‘ow’ (drought or plough), ‘uff’ (enough or tough), ‘off’ (cough or trough), ‘oo’ (through), or ‘oh’ (dough or furlough).
  • ea” It seems innocent enough. But, the humble appearnace of this cheeky little two-vowel combo is deceiving. Okent explains, “It’s usually pronounced ‘ee’ (weak, please, seal, beam) but can also be ‘eh’ (bread, head, wealth, feather). Those two options cover most of it – except for a handful of cases, where it’s ‘ay’ (break, steak, great). Oh wait, one more… there’s earth. No wait, there’s also heart.”

Confused? You will be!

But, fear not! At La Academia, we’ve got the ways and means to ensure you overcome the idiosyncrasies of the English language, with lashings of humour, in no time at all.

Get in touch about the best EFL options for you –

Typos, tricks and misprints, Arika Okrent, Aeon