Kim Ashmore, British Council, United Kingdom
It can be difficult to know how new words are pronounced in English, especially if you don't have a teacher to ask. As you know, the way a word is written does not always tell you how it is pronounced (for example, 'ear' in 'pear' and 'fear').
There is a system which is used to show people how words are pronounced. The system (called the 'phonemic alphabet') uses a symbol to represent each of the 44 sounds in English. Learners' dictionaries often use these symbols, and if you know what each word sounds like, it can give you an idea of how to pronounce a word in English.
Have a look at Cambridge Dictionaries Online for example. If you look up a word, you can click on 'show phonetics' next to the word. This gives you the symbols to show you how the word is pronounced. These symbols are always written between slashes, like this //.