Common English Mispronunciations Of Chinese Speakers And How To Avoid Them
Several languages pronounce individual words separately and succinctly while American English utilizes many types of reductions and linking between words and phrases which can, no doubt, make it difficult for the learner to adapt. Other languages don’t use rhythm or intonation when making statements or asking questions, whereas American English is extremely rhythmic with its sentence and word stress. As a result, Chinese speakers pursuing fluency in American English will experience similar challenges as they learn to communicate effectively. This straight-forward article will cover some of the most common Chinese speakers English mispronunciations, and of course the ways to fix them!
Have you ever wondered if everyone who speaks your native language encounters the same difficulties as they learn to articulate American English ? You are not alone. Regardless of someone’s first language, there will inevitably be particular challenges for them and their countrymen when learning to speak English. Possibly, your own mother tongue doesn’t have some of the vowel or consonant sounds used in the English language. Is Chinese your first language? Are you on the journey to clear English pronunciation and fluency? Most likely, you’ve experienced some of the same difficulties encountered by other Chinese speakers. Keep on reading as this article reveals a few ways you can overcome these challenges and articulate American English smoothly.
The R Sound
Some Chinese speakers replace the R sound with a W sound. Americans articulate the R sound by curling their tip and sides of the tongue slightly upward like a spoon while the lips barely come forward; however, focusing on the lips too much can cause the W sound. So, it’s best to keep the concentration on the tongue curling up. In the English word “neighbor”, when the lips are together making the B sound, you can start curling the tongue upward as the lips separate to articulate the R sound: You can even practice saying the second syllable by itself first beginning with “baa” then curl the tongue up to say “bor” which sounds like “ber”. Now, say the entire word: “neighbor”…”neighbor”. Practice repeating it to build your muscle memory which will enable you to pronounce this word and words like it perfectly.
The L Sound
Another consonant sound that can present difficulty for the Chinese speaker is the L sound. Often, the W sound is used in place of this sound as well. To articulate this sound, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth. The greatest challenge seems to come when the L sound comes at the end of a syllable or word; like in the word “all” or “also”. Try holding out the L sound at the end of the word “all” as your tongue stays touching the top of your mouth behind the upper front teeth: “all”…”all”… Now, use this same technique as you pronounce the word “also”: “also”… “also”… Repeat these two words as you exaggerate them and build your muscle memory. If it helps, look into a mirror making sure that your lips relax as your tongue does the work.
The EH Sound
A common mispronounced vowel sound is the EH like elephant sound. Usually, Chinese speakers will use the AH like rat vowel sound instead. It is extremely helpful to stand in front of a mirror as you articulate this sound. Slightly relax your jaw as it drops and lift the middle of your tongue upward. EH…EH. Try contrasting the AH like rat sound with this sound to recognize the difference. Pay close attention to your mouth as you pronounce “beg”, then “bag”. Listen to the different sounds as you look in the mirror. Feel free to exaggerate these sounds as you practice; this makes a huge impact on the muscle memory in your mouth. And eventually this pronunciation will become a habit sending you well on your way to sounding just like a native.
There is an extremely useful website called Zizifox.com where you can search for the pronunciation of a word that is giving you difficulty; several short scenes will play from TV and movie clips where your search word is being used in different contexts. This will give you many examples of how your search word is pronounced by the average American.
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