Accent Reduction and Communication Skills Training
Common Mispronunications for Arabic Speakers
If your native language is Arabic, you naturally have difficulty pronouncing several American English sounds. This is because you do not have these sounds in your native language. Here are a few sounds that you may find are the most difficult to master.
1. The “r” sound is rolled Right now, you are most likely pronouncing the "r" by what we call "rolling" it. This means that you lightly place the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth and let it quickly hit it. It may hit it once or several times.
In American English, the rolled "r" sound does not exist. To pronounce the American English “r” sound you begin by making a slight circle with your lips.As you do this, your lower jaw automatically pushes forward a bit.Then, pull your tongue high in the back of your mouth.It is actually the middle of your tongue that is high in your mouth.You should feel the front part of your tongue go down and then back up, so that the tip of it is curled and pointing up.Make sure that it does not touch the roof of your mouth.
Try saying “er” to make the “r” sound. Try to remember not to let the tip of your tongue touch the roof of your mouth.
2. The voiced “th” sound is usually pronounced like “d” Because there is no “th” sound in your native language, this may feel very awkward to pronounce.
To form the voiced "th" sound in American English, stick out your tongue so that your upper front teeth rest on it very gently. This sound must be continued, which means that you will need to keep your tongue and upper front teeth touching while you say it. Try not to open your mouth and separate your tongue and teeth. This will be the hardest part. You use your voice to say this sound, which means that if you place your hand on your throat when you say it, you should feel your vocal cords vibrate. You will also hear your voice.
The word “the” may sound like “duh.” The word “that” may sound like “dat.”
3. The “t” and “d” sounds are pronounced with the tongue too far forward The Arabic “t” and “d” sounds are usually pronounced with the tongue tip flat on the ridge (flat part behind the upper front teeth) pushing against the back of the upper front teeth. The American English "t" and "d" sounds are both formed by placing the tip of the tongue behind your upper front teeth, but not touching them. Using just the tip of the tongue makes the sounds lighter. Begin by placing the tip of your tongue behind your teeth, hold your breath, then force the sound out.
The only difference between the "t" and "d" sounds is in what we call "voicing." Your vocal cords in your throat make your voice; when you talk, they vibrate, and when you breathe out, they don't. When you say the "t" sound, you don't use your voice. This means that you are only pushing air out because your vocal cords in your throat are not vibrating. If you place your hand on your throat when you say the "t" sound, you should not feel any vibratioin and you should not hear your voice. The only thing you should hear is a puff of air as you force out the "t" sound. The "d" sound uses your voice. If you place your hand on your throat when you say this sound, you will feel it vibrate.
The word “to” will sound like “do” The word “tell” will sound like “dell”
Round your lips slightly; feel your lower jaw move slightly forward
Raise the middle of your tongue high in the back of your mouth; curl your tongue tip up. The trick is that the tongue tip cannot touch the roof of your mouth because it will sound "rolled."
voiced "th" sound "d" sound
Stick out your tongue and feel it lightly touching the botton of your top front teeth. Use your voice and continue the sound. You should feel your tongue vibrate when you say it.
If you place your tongue tip behind your front teeth and force out the sound, you will create the "d" sound instead.
"t" sound "d" sound
Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth, hold your breath, and push out air. Don't use your voice
The only difference between "t" and "d" is that you use your voice for "d"