the short answer is: english spelling
**There's a link to a printable version at 'ioE printables' under the 'STUFF' tab on the nav bar.
The only thing that makes less sense than spelling in the entire English-speaking world is keeping score in a tennis match. For the rest of the world, zero is zero. But not tennis--oh no! Zero is “love.”
That would be fine by itself, but look at what happens when you hit a winner. Your first point counts for 15, your second for 15, which brings you to 30. But then your next point is somehow only worth 10, to get to 40. At this point, if your opponent also has 40, is the score 40 to 40? Nay, nay. The score is “deuce.”
If you are not confused at this point, you are a tennis player. You should try explaining the scoring system to someone who has no idea of tennis, and then you will have some sympathy for the language arts teacher with a room full of eager 6-year olds.
We all learned about “silent -e-” in elementary school, but if you had to guess how many of the twenty-six letters in the English Alphabet can be “silent”, which answer would you choose?
The correct (if depressing) answer is c. Every single letter in the alphabet can appear in words without being pronounced. (Click on English’s Silent Alphabet to the right.)**
This is why English-speaking children have such a hard time learning to read, and why many English language learners find our language so exasperating to study. If you start by telling children that certain letters make certain sounds, you quickly find yourself evading unanswerable questions.
“But Teacher, yesterday we learned that tough rhymes with fluff. You told us the -f- might not be there in the letters, but it was there in the sound. Now we add -h- and you say though rhymes with blow. What happened to the -f- sound that wasn’t there? Where did it not go?”