Selected 4 Weak Sounds for English learners

G’day mate. How’s it been? Today, I am going to touch on selected 4 weak sounds for English learners. These four sounds are chosen based on my personal and teaching experiences over the course of my English learning. So, I might be wrong somehow, but I hope it helps at least a bit for those struggling to refine English pronunciation. Let’s get underway.

First up, “er, ur, ir, ear” sound is probably the hardest one that so many English learners are struggling to refine

In particular, the vast majority of Japanese English learners are stuck in this sound, because Japanese language does not have this type of sound. Japanese vowel does not have such various sounds, unlike English. Vowels for us just simply comprises a i u e o, and nothing else. In contrast, English encompasses more subtle ramifications of vowels, which utterly discombobulates Japanese English learners. But, in especial, this er-sound may conceivably be one of the trickiest ones, I reckon. From my pedagogical perspective, refining this sound has to be done by forgetting about Katakana English in the first place. The overwhelming majority of Japanese English learners are haunted by this Katakana-influenced mispronunciation. Tips💡: Don’t open your mouth widely, just a little bit, it’s like a shape of duck’s mouth.

Please try to read this sentence aloud!

  1. They were at work early.
  2. I prefer to use short words.

How’s that? Did you accurately pronounce er-sound? If not, let’s practise more and more! Here is my sample:

Second, “ts-sound” is the second hardest one as many English learners are struggling to differentiate ts-sound from t-sound

I’ve been teaching many students coming not just from Japan, but also other Asian and European backgrounds, many of them have pretty much common mistakes. Many people fail to speak clearly at the end of a sentence, which significantly affects speaking test like TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, etc. This, again, I think there should be no this particular sound in Japanese, so it’s understandable how hard it is. Just practice makes perfect! Tips💡: You should feel like someone puts pressure on your head, and air does not come out from your mouth.

Please try to say these words and check whether or not AI can detect your word accurately https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/demos/speech.html

  1. Subjects
  2. Objects
  3. Contexts

My sample recording:

Third, the Schwa sound (ə) is the third difficult one, because if you cannot use your mouth in a relaxing way, it’s hard to pronounce it correctly

This particular sound is almost analogous to “er-sound”. The difference between these is just whether you elongate the sound or not. “er-sound” is apparently elongated like you can notice by this symbol ” ː “, right? It’s a short and weak vowel sound. Anyway, the Schwa sound is a kind of tricky one, because you can’t lengthen the sound, depending upon words. But normally no. Tips💡: You sort of stop open your mouth, just a bit like “er-sound”, and don’t elongate the end of a word.

Please try to read these sentences aloud.

  1. I have a carrot and a banana.
  2. Father went around the apartment.

My sample recording:

Last but not least, Dark L sound is an implicitly blind spot for many English learners, because some cannot distinguish between Dark L and Light L sound

Dark L sound is exceptionally tricky one to pronounce correctly. It sounds like normal L, but it’s not right. Dark L sound is made up of two sounds. The first sound is a vowel sound like the ‘u’ /ʊ/ in the word ‘put’, and then Light L, which is made very lightly. And, vowel after L should be changed to Light L sound, which is also another important point I want to underscore in terms of Dark L sound. Tips💡: It might take a while to refine this sound, but you need to use your mouth exaggeratedly.

Please try to read these sentences aloud.

  1. Call the tall girl.
  2. The small ball fell in the cool pool.

My sample recording:

Should you have any further information or queries, please feel free to contact me via email or just leave your comments here. I am offering a personalised Skype-based English program, so if you are interested in this, please also contact me.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading.

Have a great day!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I am mainly teaching the PTE exam, general English as well as academic skills online. In addition to this, I'm offering visa follow-up support and assignment's proofreading service as well. Apart from these stuff, I am passionate about cycling both road and MTB. Nice to meet you guys!

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