Watch as I analyze the speech of a non-native speaker from China. See the different mispronunciations and get a feel for how to correct them. Video one of a two-part series.
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Today I’m going to work on an audio clip that someone from China has sent me. Hi Rachel, I’m a Chinese student. Hi Rachel, I’m a Chinese student. I heard, ‘am’ instead of ‘I’m’. So you need to really make those two separate sounds for the diphthong, in the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. Am, I’m. You see the jaw drops more for that initial sound. And um, I’m learning English now. Again, I heard, and um, am learning English now. I’m. I’m learning English now. I’m a sophomore. Now here he says, I’m a sophomore. And I do hear the two sounds of the diphthong, ai, a little bit better, but it’s a little too fast. I’m a, I’m a is what I heard. I’m. I’m a sophomore. In, uh, Normal University. I’m not quite sure here what the name of the university was. I don’t really know 100% if it was an English word or Chinese. It did sound like the English word Normal, um, but I didn’t hear a dark L, heard a bit of an R sound [ɹ] at the end, which is a common mistake for people whose native language is Chinese. So make sure that that ends in the dark L if it is, in fact, the word Normal. U-l, u-l, Normal University.
That means, I’m going to be an English teacher two years later. Good. Um, the word ‘that’. I heard a shadow vowel after the word ‘that’ before the word means. That-uh means, that-uh means. There shouldn’t be any kind of vowel sound between those two words. That: the tongue moves up here, into position for the T or D sound: that. Tt. Instead of pulling down and letting air escape to make that tt sound, the sound simply stops within that tongue movement. That means. And then you bring the lips into the position for the M and continue the sound. That means, that means. That means, I’m going to be an English teacher two years later. The rest of that sounded good. A note about the phrase ‘two years later’. That refers to something that happened in the past, two years after something else that happened in the past. But, since we’re talking about the present and the future, we say ‘in two years’. That means, I’ll be a teacher in two years.
This time I’ll record a small passage, and I want you, and I wonder if you can help me, to give me some suggestions on my pronunciation or intonation. Ok. In general, really your accent is pretty great, but, I do want to point out everything. Um, so I will say on the word ‘to’. You said it a few times in this phrase. It sounded like a mixed vowel between an ‘oo’ [u] and an ‘ee’ [i]. It needs to be just a pure oo. To, oo. So, for that the tongue needs to be morerelaxed than how you are holding it, I think, when you say the word ‘to’. It is a little bit harder for me to diagnose since I can’t see your mouth, just based on what I can hear with the ear I’m saying in that oo vowel, for the word to, your tongue needs to be more relaxed.
The word suggestions: give me some suggestions. I hear suchestions. Um, suchestions with a ch CH sound [ʧ]. Um, what I need to hear is a little bit more of a gg with a jj. ‘Gg’ as in ‘gap’ [g] with a ‘jj’ as in ‘jar’ [ʤ]. Suggestions. Now, the gg sound isn’t terribly strong, but there is a closing in the throat: sug-, my throat is closing there – suggestions – before the ‘jj’ as in ‘jar’ sound. Suggestions, suggestions. …give me some suggestions on my pronunciation or intonation. You say suggestions, and then the next word, I’m not sure if it’s on or of. But, it would be on. Suggestions on my pronunciation. Also, the word pronunciation, pronunciation or, I hear pronucation. Pronun-ci. I need to hear that extra ee vowel. Pronunciation. Then you can help me improve a lot. Thank you so much. Excellent. The one thing I would say there, um, and this might be an issue of the audio device and not actually you, is the ‘vv’:improve, vv, vv, I could hear a little bit more that voiced V sound: vv.
And I’m going to read it – a small passage. On the word ‘read’, I hear a sound more like ruh, ruh, where the corners of the mouth aren’t coming out enough, ee, ee, to free up that sound to make the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel. Read.