5 Quick Pronunciation Tips

At EC Miami, we always hold Pronunciation Clinic on Tuesday afternoons and it is a great opportunity to have a free class and learn about the sounds in English. While some of you do come to the clinic, others of you are busy sunbathing at the beach. We understand that Miami Beach has plenty of distractions from learning English, but pronunciation is still important if you want native speakers to understand what you are saying. So, even if you don’t have time to spend 45 minutes at the clinic, you can spend 5 minutes reading our 5 quick pronunciation tips here!

1)      If you have trouble pronouncing the [h] sound, the best trick involves a piece of paper. Hold the paper in front of your mouth and say the word “horse.” If the paper moves, you are saying the sound correctly. You can also do this with your hand; you have to feel breath on your hand. It is important that you blow air out of your mouth to make the [h] sound. This is especially important for all of you French speakers!

2)      If you have trouble pronunciation the [th] sound, look in mirror. You must be sticking out your tongue to say the sound correctly. Put your tongue between your teeth and blow out. If you spit a  little too, that is actually a good thing! This is an important tip for many different languages, but especially for German speakers. Watch this video for more information about tips 2 and 3: Th Pronunciation Video.

3)      Just to confuse you more, there are two different [th] sounds. There is the sound of the word [think] and the word [this]. You stick your tongue out for both sounds, but one is voiced and the other is unvoiced. To find out which one is voiced, put your hand on the front of your neck. When you say the word [think], you should feel no vibrations, but when you say [this], you should feel movement under your hand. The movement means that [this] is voiced and [think] is unvoiced.

4)      To make the sound in the word [tree], all you have to do is smile. The sound [i] as in [tree] or [see] is not so hard when you just open your mouth into a big smile. After all, that’s why we always say [cheese] when we pose for a photo!

5)      Slow down! If you know you are getting close to saying a word with a sound that is difficult for you, speak slowly and concentrate on your mouth and tongue movements. It is better to speak slowly and to have people understand you, than to speak quickly and unclearly.