English pronunciation is a troublesome thing to master for ESL and EFL students. Those who try to learn without regular auditive stimulation have a particularly difficult time with accurate pronunciation. Plus, some sounds in English just don’t exist in some foreign languages, like the “th” sound.
Pronunciation snags happen between many languages. For example, Portuguese-speakers do not understand the sound of “j” that many Spanish-speakers use for the consonant “y.” Most Japanese and Chinese speakers have a hard time with the sound of “ell” coming from any other language, and often confuse it with “ar.” Get this one: Portuguese-speakers do not pronounce the letter “h” at all. It’s totally mute. And the English “r” sound is pronounced like the “h” in “hay.” So the portuguese word “rei” for example, meaning king, is pronounced as “hay.”
English sometimes can seem dedicated to making it even harder for learners with some phonetic oddities, like the words: ‘tough’ [túf]; ‘women’ [wû-mun]; ‘aisle’ (And going back to the “h” issue, the letter has no sound in English in the words ‘heir’ [ehr], ‘hour’ [our] and ‘herb’ [urb], just like in Portuguese).
Some words in English can be written the same, but pronounced totally differently depending on its placement in the sentence. Take a look at this compilation on Hubpages.
Furthermore, there is a poem made available by THE POKE that will drive anyone crazy. It tests your pronunciation of English words and it sounds more like a tongue-twister. Give it a try here and let us know how you do!