Friday, 14 Aug 2015 | Last updated 21 April 2016

ESSAYS and primers on various aspects of the English language and learning by the editors of Learn English or Starve.

Owing to copyright reasons, these articles are NOT for reproduction in whole outside of this site. Excerpts with attribution are freely permitted and welcomed at any time.

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asia map travelnotesdotorgChina Syndrome

Under construction

Difficulties in learning and using the English language by Chinese speakers.



ipa genericThe IPA

08 July 2012 | Full text

The IPA is a standard system of phonetic notation to represent the sounds of the oral language for linguistic analysis. It’s a way of making speech ‘visible.’ It enjoys widespread popular use worldwide. Yet it suffers from eight major defects as a tool for learning pronunciation.


cash registerLanguage Registers

21 Oct 2012 | Full text

Choosing the right language for the context is using the right language register. It’s a problem for any learner in any language, but the problem is a bigger one for Asians more than others because of the ‘pull’ of long history and learning atmosphere.


miscommunicationMispronunciation List

20 July 2014 | Full text

On this list are some hard-to-pronounce everyday words — or just badly said by native English speakers. For many native and non-native speakers, the main difficulty is in deciding the correct placement of stress and the length of vowels.


sign myth bustedNative Fluency

21 Oct 2010 | Full text

It’s a psychotic state of mind induced by years of formalised education of the type geared for passing examinations whose criteria are less to do with real-life application than with dragging out the learning process in order to milk the learner (or the parents).


self face punchNative Fluency 2

21 Oct 2011 | Full text

People have bizarre beliefs about native fluency (and how to acquire it), and those beliefs are almost religious in intensity and dangerously mislead by the conventional wisdom.


eye dialectPronunciation spellings and respellings

09 July 2012 | Full text

People are normally more comfortable with ‘make-do’ pronunciation respellings rather than use the IPA. The respelling retains the ‘flavour’ of the local speech and the conventional spelling. That helps learners make connections between the spoken and written English experiences.


no sneezingWeird regional usages of English

20 Apr 2016 | Full text

A collection of unique English-language usages found in non-English-speaking places. Always under construction, always deconstructed, always hilarious.


© Learn English or Starve, 14 Aug 2015 | Last updated 21 April 2016.

First released 14 Aug 2015.
Updated 19 Apr 2016 (formatting).
Updated 21 Apr 2016 (formatting, images).

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