Problems with pronunciation?

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Do you have any problems in English pronunciation? If yes, then this is the place where you can read for tips for better pronunciation.

Non-native speakers of English experience different pronunciation problems according to their native language.  This is due to:

1.  Different pronunciation of some letters

2.  No equivalent sound in their own language

If students cannot hear whether they are pronouncing a sound correctly, then the only alternative is to “feel” and “see” whether they are pronouncing it properly.

Take note that English is a language which depends upon:-

AIRFLOW, LIP SHAPE, TONGUE POSITION, TEETH POSITION, JAW MOVEMENT


COMMON DIFFICULT SOUNDS

TH:  (long, soft, as in TEETH) Put the tip of your tongue between your teeth and blow gently.  It is a long sound and should last about 5 seconds.

To test whether you are making this sound properly, place your hand approximately 12 cm from your mouth.  If you can feel a good flow of cool air halfway down your arm and your teeth and lips are in the right position, your pronunciation of this sound will be OK.  Do not forget to check the length of time you are allowing for the sound. You must produce this amount of air whenever you say a word with a soft TH in it.

TH:  (short, hard, as in THE) Put the tip of your tongue between your teeth and make a voice sound from your throat.  It is a short sound with a sudden burst of air.

To test whether you are making this sound properly, place your hand approximately 6 cm from your mouth.  If you can feel a sudden burst of air on your hand, you are making the sound from your throat and your teeth and lips are in the right position, your pronunciation of this sound will be OK.  You must produce this sound whenever you say a word with a hard TH in it.

V:  Put your top front teeth onto your bottom lip and make a voice sound in your throat.  Your lips should be more or less closed.

If you are making this sound correctly, you will feel an uncomfortable vibration.  You must feel this vibration every time you say a word with V in it, otherwise you are not pronouncing it properly.   The listener must hear the vibration to be sure of what you are saying.

ST: Make a long, soft ‘S’ sound like a snake, then suddenly add an abrupt ‘T+schwa’ sound by pushing your tongue against the back of your top front teeth, then suddenly taking it away.  (Practise the ‘s’ sound first, then the ‘schwa’ sound alone before adding the abrupt ‘T’ sound.)

PH: Pronounce PH as F (not P)

F: Put your top front teeth onto your bottom lip and blow gently.  Your lips should be more or less closed.

To test whether you are making this sound properly, place your hand approximately 12 cm from your mouth.  If you can feel a good flow of cool air onto your hand and your teeth and lips are in the right position, your pronunciation of this sound will be OK.  You must produce this amount of air whenever you say a word with F in it.

H: To make this sound, you need a lot of air and your mouth should be open.   Stand or sit up straight and take a deep breath, open your mouth, then let out the air quickly as if you are disappointed about something.  Allow your body to slump at the same time.

To test whether you are making this sound properly, place your hand approximately 12 cm from your mouth.  If you can feel a good flow of hot air onto your hand and your mouth and body are in the right positions, your pronunciation of this sound will be OK.  You must produce this amount of air whenever you say a word with H in it.

L:  When making the L sound, you tongue must temporarily go up to the roof of your mouth and come down again.  It must not touch your teeth unless the next sound is TH.

To check your tongue is in the right position, use a mirror.  Practise saying La, La, La, so you can see what your tongue is doing.

R: When making the R sound, your tongue does very little;  it just stays at the bottom of your mouth.  However, your lower jaw quickly moves forward, down and back as you say the sound.

Use a mirror to check that your tongue is not moving up to the roof of your mouth and that your jaw is moving properly.   If you do not have this sound in your language, you will need to practise moving your jaw.  At first, it will be painful, because you will be flexing unused muscles just as you would if you attempting a new sport.  If you persevere the discomfort will eventually subside.

W: When making the W sound, you must pucker your lips as if you are going to kiss your favourite filmstar.  Use a mirror to achieve the correct lip shape.  To make the sound, you must push a sound out through the lip ‘funnel’ as if you have hurt yourself a little BEFORE saying the word, then at the end of this strained sound you open your lips a little and make a different sound as if you are saying the number ONE (but stop before you stay the N sound). Only after all this can you say the rest of the word.

Therefore, for the word WAR, follow these instructions:-  .

  • puck your lips into a kissing shape (check in the mirror)
  • make a strained sound through puckered lips for 1-2 seconds
  • open your lips and begin to say the number ONE (without the N)
  • then complete the word by adding an OR sound.  Make it a long sound (3-4 seconds).  Better to make the word too long than not long enough.
  • by following these instructions, you should have completed the word WAR

Read the above instructions for L and R, then practice saying:- WAR, LAW, RAW

Is this tips really helpful? Credits to Musical English Lessons International for the tips. You can click HERE for more tips.

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