There is yet another aspect to this. As native speakers of Dutch, we will have learned this language ’by ear’, and were only taught how to write it when we went to school. When learning a foreign language, however, we often first become familiar with a word in writing, and form an opinion of how it is pronounced on the basis of how it is written.
Unfortunately, there is a large discrepancy between the spelling and the pronunciation of English, and basing our pronunciation on the spelling of English words can lead to disappointing results. This discrepancy – which is considerably greater in English than it is in Dutch – has arisen chiefly because the spelling has remained virtually unchanged over a period of some centuries, while the pronunciation has undergone considerable changes during that time.
By way of illustration, you might try and say which of the following pairs are pronounced alike in English, i.e. which words are homophones. Do this before you listen to the audio samples.