How to Improve Your English Pronunciation, Part 2

Regardless of your age, you can always work on your pronunciation.  Our mini session of today is to help non-native speakers improve their competence in pronunciation by focussing on one sound (actually two)–the TH.  This sound is unique to English; therefore, the English student will always try to replace this sound by either T or S. Some students may object by saying that they are too old to change for the better.  We have living proof that one of our TEFL trainees from the U.K. was able to teach a Russian lady beyond 50 how to form this sound properly within a week of daily practice.  If she could do it, you can do it.

INTRODUCTION

Please watch this video and see for yourself what can happen if your pronunciation is incorrect.

Maybe you are thinking about your pronunciation of the TH right now.  Don’t worry.  If you stay with our collection of exercises, you will definitely improve your performance.

LEARNING TO FORM THE SOUND

Since the voiced th (ð) and voiceless th (θ) sounds share the exact same spelling pattern, ESL/EFL students must memorize the pronunciation of new vocabulary words as they are learned. In general, the voiced th sound occurs in far fewer words than the voiceless th, however, the voiced th sound is more common in function words (such as articles, pronouns, and demonstratives). For example, the function words thethatthemthesetheytheir (and more), are pronounced with a  voiced th.

The following video will teach you how to form the two individual sounds.  Get a mirror, so you can check whether you make the sound correctly.  Although this video shows you how to form the sound, it lacks intensive practice for you.  Once you have finished watching it, return for the audio sound practice below during which you have to actually speak after the native speakers who are individuals from the U.S.  Whenever it is too fast for you, just stop the video for a moment in between.

INTENSIVE SOUND PRACTICE

The key to mastering proficiency is repetition.  We have put together the following lists and the audio, so you can practice.  All you need is the motivation of wanting to speak better English.  Listen and repeat after the speaker.  You might have to stop the audio if it is too fast for you.  The text is below.

I.  Listen and Practice: TH words with [θ], the voiceless sound

1.  thing                          6.  thousand                       11.  tooth

2.  think                          7.  something                     12.  mouth

3.  thanks                       8.  healthy                          13.  fifth

4.  theater                      9.  author                            14.  bath

5.  three                       10.  nothing                          15.  death

II.  Listen and Practice: TH words with [ð], the voiced sound

1.  this                           6.  then                              11.  rather

2.  that                           7.  together                        12.  bother

3.  those                         8.  other                            13.  smooth

4.  their                           9.  mother                         14.  bathe

5.  these                        10.  weather                       15.  breathe

V.  Listen and Practice: Saying Sentences

When you say a sentence, group words into phrases and speak smoothly.  The vertical lines in the first sentence show one way to group the words.  This is what native speakers do.

1.  The fourth Thursday │ of November │ is Thanksgiving.

2.  A “thingamajig” is something whose real name you can’t think of.

3.  Three hundred thirty-three thousand therapists thought about the new theory of thinking.

4.  The thieves threatened three dozen Southern mothers.

5.  The theme seems thoughtless to them.

If you do this practice daily for one week, you will become proficient in pronouncing the TH.  Repetition is the key to learning.

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