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  1. CedoniaLye's Avatar
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    #1

    How do I begin to teach a friend English with words that sound the same?

    I have a foreign friend, and his English is passable enough to understand basic things, but I ran into an issue where things like tier and tear sound the exact same, but are different words. How do I start to explain to him these things? Also what about ways people say data or either? Should I have to double up on my work or ignore those as little things?

    Thanks!

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How do I begin to teach a friend English with words that sound the same?

    "Tier" and "tear" do not always sound the same. There are two different pronunciations of "tear".
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 08-Jan-2017 at 14:09.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: How do I begin to teach a friend English with words that sound the same?

    'Tear' meaning rip sounds different from 'tear' meaning a result of crying. The latter sounds like 'tier' to me.

    But I don't understand the original problem. Just advise him that homophones exist, that different words are sometimes pronounced the same, and that some words are pronounced differently by different people, and your job's done.
    You could supplement this with the odd web-page listing examples, but I think the concept should be easy enough to teach.

  4. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #4

    Re: How do I begin to teach a friend English with words that sound the same?

    The problem exists with common things like their/there/they're, but it is not so widespread that it creates a great obstacle to learning. What is your friend's first language?

  5. Skrej's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: How do I begin to teach a friend English with words that sound the same?

    It sounds to me like your friend needs to be reminded of context. Yes, there are homophones, but context will almost always make it immediately clear which meaning is intended. You may also need to clarify the difference between homophones (same pronunciation but different meanings and spellings) and words with alternate pronunciations (different pronunciation but same spelling and meaning).

    For example the alternate pronunciations of 'data' and 'either' shouldn't cause any comprehension issues, as the different pronunciations don't change context or meaning.

    As Raymott said, just briefly mention that there are alternate pronunciations of some words which don't change the meaning, and some words with the same sounds which do have different meanings. It should be a brief, simple discussion. If it's still a big issue, then your friend is ignoring context.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #6

    Re: How do I begin to teach a friend English with words that sound the same?

    I'm currently learning a tonal language, where we're told that if you get the tone wrong you may be misunderstood, but generally the context makes the meaning clear even with cloth-eared foreign speakers' inaccurate attempts.

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