Correct English Pronunciation
for Chinese Learners
Learning the correct methods on how to practice English pronunciation can be a challenge. Many native Chinese professionals and students have difficulty pronouncing American vowel sounds and often omit word endings as they practice English pronunciation. The correct vowel production is based on the position of the tongue, lips, and the tension of the facial muscles:
• The tongue position is based on the location and height
• The lip position is either rounded or unrounded
• Facial muscles are tense or relaxed
In American accent training, it is important to note that the tip of the tongue rests against the back of the lower teeth in every vowel sound. You may want to try to practice this position. When native Chinese speakers pronounce these three words, ” bait”,” bat”, and “bet”, it will sound like they have said the word, “bet”, three times.
In situations like this the first thing that you notice is the vowel sound, “A”. You will need to lengthen the “A” sound in the word, “bait”, for example to pronounce that word correctly. To pronounce the second word, “bat” correctly, you will need to first close your lips tightly and build up pressure to release quickly to say, “b”. To pronounce the vowel, you will need to lower your jaw, then keeping your tongue relaxed in your mouth.
To pronounce “bet”, you will say the “b” syllable as in the previous word. The vowel is pronounced by keeping the front portion of the tongue towards the roof, and the sides touching you’re inside upper teeth with your mouth open slightly.
Don’t worry if you don’t pronounce everything perfectly the first time as you learn English pronunciation. Just remember to make list of frequently used words that you have difficulty pronouncing and ask someone who speaks well to record the words for you. This way, you will have an example to refer to as you practice. You can listen to the practice word, and then repeat it several times while you imitate the intonation and word pronunciation of the speaker. It’s always best to have frequent practice several times a day rather than one long session.
For additional help on mastering vowels, check out 7 Weeks to a Better American Accent for Native Mandarin Speakers – volume 1, published by Sovereign language press. Tracey Ingram, M.A., M.S. is a certified accent coach, and the author of a brand new book with MP3 (audio) published by Sovereign Language Press.
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