Three things to keep in mind while learning the TH sound: 1) tongue tip between teeth, 2) TH is gentle, 3) Keep tongue low. Learn more about Private Lessons with Tom.
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Hi! I’m Tom Kelly, a Rachel’s English teacher. Today’s practice tip deals with what some students consider a pretty tricky consonant sound, the TH.
For many students, the TH consonant ends up sounding like an American English D or T consonant. For instance, instead of saying “the”, a very common word that begins with the voiced TH consonant, students will say “duh”. It’s in the back. You can hear the consonant sound “duh-duh”. We want the TH sound “the – the”. It’s in the back. “In the – in the”. It’s in the back.
Here are a few tips to help with your TH sound. First off, you want the tip of your tongue to be between the teeth. You don’t need to bite the tongue. You can just gently rest the tongue between the teeth. You also don’t need to push a lot of the tongue out. It can just be the very tip of the tongue. That’s enough.
Another tip I have for you is to remember that the TH consonant is a very gentle sound. And it takes a bit of relaxation to find it.
A great way to test your TH consonant sound is to see if you’re able to hold out the consonant. For instance, here is the unvoiced consonant held out. Can you even hear it? It’s a very quiet, gentle sound. Right? All that’s happening is air is being pushed past the tip of the tongue and the upper teeth. You don’t have to hold any tension anywhere in your face for this sound. Just rush the air past the tongue and teeth.
For the voiced version of this consonant, all you do is add vibration of your vocal cords and use just a little less air. You should feel the vibration in your tongue. Again, you should be able to hold the sound out easily.
There, this [2x]
Here’s one last tip to help you work on this challenging consonant sound. We always talk about putting the tip of the tongue between the teeth for this consonant sound. Or having the tip of the tongue just behind the opening between the teeth. But what is the rest of the tongue doing?
Think of the rest of the tongue being low in the mouth and relaxed for this sound. Many students will place the tip of the tongue between the teeth, but the rest of the tongue is actually lifted in the mouth which blocks the air from flowing easily past the tongue and teeth.
If you do this, you will end up with that D or T consonant. With a low relaxed tongue, “there”. With a lifted tongue blocking the airflow, “there”. It sounds like a D consonant – “there” because my tongue is blocking the airflow.
Keep that tongue low in the mouth. Don’t forget to keep the rest of the tongue low and relaxed when the TH consonant comes in the middle or at the ends of words as well.
Another, father, whether, myth, faith, bath
Practice this sound by holding out the consonant easily in words. This will build up the habit of keeping the tongue relaxed and letting the airflow easily pass the tongue and teeth.
Therapy, whether, faith
You don’t really need to hold out the TH that long. This is just a way to practice.
That’s all for today’s practice tip. If you’re interested in learning more about taking private lessons with me, click here or in the description below. I also offer pronunciation evaluations where I help you identify and focus on your specific pronunciation challenges. Keep practicing, have fun, and thanks for watching Rachel’s English!