i'm a very recent convert to Islam and I'm having trouble praying. I want to pray five times a day, I want to worship God, but the Arabic is very hard to memorize. Can I pray with the English translations that they usually provide, or is there some way to memorize all the Arabic necessary to pray?
According to the majority of scholars of Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali schools, performing prayers in any language other than Arabic is not permitted, regardless of one's level of knowledge of the language. A new Muslim must learn at least the absolute minimum required to perform the prayers in Arabic. As this may take some time (days or weeks, depending on the person), in the interim, you may refer to this Islam Q&A article on "Declaring shahaadah and performing salaat for a new non-Arabic speaking Muslim" for information on the topic of your question. Of particular interest to your question:
What is required from you for the time being is to say in the beginning of the prayer and between each movement between positions "Allaahu ak-bar" (a glorification of Allaah). While standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting, you should say "subhaan allaah wal-hamdu lillaah wa-laa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu akbar." (Glory be to Allaah, and praise and thanks be to Allaah, and there is no god but Allaah, and Allaah is the most Exalted and Great.) Then conclude the prayer by turning your head to the right then left, each time saying "as-salaamu alaikum."
This way of performing salaat is permissible for you until you can learn and memorize what should be said in each movement and position of the salaat.
You may also refer to the questions of others who were in a similar situation not so long ago:
In Islam, there are schools of jurisprudence, with each school often referred to as madhhab. Among Sunni Muslims, four schools define most of the rules and regulations in Islam: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali .
In Al-Mughni (Arabic only) by Ibn Qudamah, a prominent Hanbali scholar, recitation in a prayer has to be in Arabic according to the majority of scholars:
ولا تجزئه القراءة بغير العربية، ولا إبدال لفظها بلفظ عربي، سواء أحسن قراءتها بالعربية أو لم يحسن. وبه قال الشافعي، وأبو يوسف، ومحمد. وقال أبو حنيفة: يجوز ذلك. وقال بعض أصحابه: أنما يجوز لمن لم يحسن العربية
NOTE. My own translation, so treat with care.
... and reciting in a language other than Arabic does not suffice, nor does replacing its [the prayers] phrases by other Arabic phrases, whether one masters the Arabic language or not. This was also the view of Ash-Shafi'i, and Abu Yūssuf and Mohammad [Hanafi scholars]. Abu Hanīfa said that it was permitted, and so did some of his followers: It is permitted for one who does not master the Arabic language.
— Al-Mughni 1/350-351/674
- Recitations: Abu Hanīfa and some of his followers permitted non-Arabic recitations for those who do not speak Arabic, but the majority of scholars said that recitation in Arabic is a must (Al-Mughni 1/350-351/674, Arabic only).
- Takbīr (saying "Allahu-Akbar") and middle tashahhud: Abu Hanīfa said it was permitted it at large, but the majority of scholars made it conditional on one's inability to use the Arabic language (Al-Mughni 1/335/644, Arabic only).
- The final tashahhud and as-salawat al-Ibrāhīmiyya: The majority of scholars say it is permitted to use other languages for those who do not speak Arabic but is not permitted for those who can (Shafi'i school permits it without reservation, while Maliki school discourages it as in Sharh Mukhtasar Khalīl 2/292, Arabic only).