Accent Reduction and Communication Skills Training
Common Mispronunications for Japanese Speakers
Because Japanese is your native language, you are most likely experiencing difficulty pronouncing several American English sounds. Some of the more challenging sounds are the following:
1. The “l” sound is often pronounced like “r” The American English “l” sound will probably be one of the most challenging sounds for you to master.Right now you are most likely pulling your tongue in the back of your mouth and curling the tip of your tongue up.This makes the American English “r” sound.
To form the “l” sound, open your mouth and place just the tip of your tongue just in back of your upper front teeth.Relax the rest of your tongue so that it does not press up against your side teeth.Then, say “la.”The key here is to make sure the tip of your tongue is up behind your upper front teeth.
The word “lake” will sound like “rake" The word “balloon” will sound like “buh-roon”
2. The unvoiced “th” is often pronounced like “s” The unvoiced “th” sound is made by sticking out your tongue so that it rests gently on the bottom of your top front teeth. This sound does not use your voice. As you say it, push air out of your mouth and continue the sound. The air actually passes right through the top of your tongue, so make sure you don't bite too hard with your teeth. Right now, instead of sticking out your tongue to form the unvoiced “th” sound, you may be placing the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth and continuing the sound. This makes it sound like the “s” sound instead.
The word “think” will sound like “sink” The word “something” will sound like “some-ting"
3. The “ih sound is often pronounced like “ee” These sounds are both made with the front of the tongue and are often difficult to distinguish.
To pronounce the “ee” sound, you will need to smile, and place your tongue high in your mouth. You should feel the sides of your tongue pressing against your upper side teeth in the back of your mouth. You will feel your tongue tighten in your mouth.
When you say the “ih” sound, you should not feel any tension. Your mouth should feel relaxed and your lips should be flat. Your tongue is lower in your mouth and should not be pressing against your side teeth.
The word “sit” will sound like “seat The word “bat” sound like “beat”
"l" sound "r" sound
Keep your lips flat and place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth. Say "lah."
If you round your lips and pull your tongue back in your mouth, it creates the "r" sound.
unvoiced "th" sound "s" sound
You must stick out your tongue slightly and feel your top front teeth lightly resting on it. Continue the sound by keeping your tongue and teeth in contact, but don't use your voice.
If your tongue is resting lightly behind your teeth and continue the sound without using your voice, you will be creating the "s" sound instead.
"ih" sound "ee" sound
You will need to relax your lips and tongue. Raise your tongue about half way up inside your mouth.
If you smile and keep your tongue tense and high in your mouth, it becomes the "ee" sound.