Accent Reduction and Communication Skills Training
Common Mispronunications for French Speakers
With French being your native language, you may be experiencing difficulty pronouncing several American English sounds. Here are a few of the sounds that may be particularly challenging.
1. The r sound is distorted The French r is very different from the American English r.The French r is formed with the back of the tongue low in the back of the mouth and sounds like a guttural sound.
To form the American English r begin by making a slight circle with your lips. You will feel your lower jaw move slightly forward as you do this.The middle of your tongue then pulls back high in the back of the mouth. This is a big difference; instead of lowering your tongue you will need to raise it in the back of your mouth.The tip of your tongue curls up toward the roof of your mouth.
2. The voiced th is pronounced like d or z To form the American English voiced th sound, stick out your tongue slightly and let it rest lightly on the bottom of your top front teeth.With your tongue and upper teeth lightly touching, push your voice and air out through the top of your tongue.Continue the sound by keeping your tongue and teeth touching.If you feel your throat when saying this sound, it will be vibrating.This is because your vocal cords, which create your voice are moving.
The word the may sound like duh or zuh The word this may sound like diss or ziss
3. The h sound is often omitted It is common for the h sound in French to be omitted. This means that words that begin with h sound like they begin with a vowel.
In American English we pronounce the h sound by just breathing out lightly. Although that is all there is to it, it can be very challenging to remember to push out the air for the h sound.
To form a vowel, you need to begin by holding your breath. Then, force the sound out. You will feel your vocal cords force open.
The word hat sounds like at The word he sounds like ee
Slightly round your lips and feel your lower jaw move slightly forward.
Pull your tongue back in your mouth, but make sure the middle of your tongue goes up rather than going down.
voiced "th" "d" sound "z" sound sound
Stick out your tongue and feel it in contact with the bottom of your top front teeth. Continue the sound and use your voice.
If your tongue tip stays inside your mouth and presses behind your teeth, it changes to "d."
If you smile and continue the sound as you lightly touch the tongue tip behind your teeth, it creates the "z" sound.
Let your jaw fall open a little bit and breathe out. If you don't hear air, you are omitting this sound.