Accent Reduction and Communication Skills Training
Common Mispronunications for Korean Speakers
Because you are not a native American English speaker, you naturally have difficulty pronouncing some American English sounds. Here are a few sounds that you might find particularly challenging.
1. The "l" and "r" sounds are often interchanged You may be pronouncing the "l" in "lake" like "r." This makes "lake" sound like "rake." In addition, words beginning with "r" like "red" will change to "led." This can be confusing for both you and the person with whom you are speaking.
To pronounce the American English "l" sound, keep your lips flat and place the tip of your tongue just behind your top front teeth. Only the tip of your tongue should be touching. The rest of your tongue should be relaxed. Now say, "lah."
The American English "r" sound is formed completely different from the "l" sound. To form this sound, slightly round your lips. As you do this, you will feel your lower jaw automatically move slightly forward. Now pull your tongue back in your mouth and raise the middle of it up high. The tip of your tongue should curl up but not back in your mouth. Make sure that your tongue tip doesn't hit the roof of your mouth. If it does, it will sound like "l."
The word "rip" will sound like "lip." The word "load" will sound like "road."
2. The “ih sound is often pronounced like “ee” These sounds are similar because they are both made with the front part of the tongue. The difference is this: when forming the "ih" sound, your lips and tongue remain relaxed and your tongue raises about half way up inside your mouth; for the "ee" sound you need to smile and tense the muscles in your tongue. Raise your tongue high in your mouth so that you can feel the sides of your tongue pressing against your upper side teeth in the back of your mouth.
Remember: When you say the “ih” sound, you should not feel any tension.Your mouth should feel relaxed and your lips should be flat.Your tongue is lower in your mouth and should not be pressing against your side teeth.
The word “sit” will sound like “seat" The word "wit" will sound like "wheat"
3. The unvoiced "th" is often pronounced like "t" The unvoiced "th" is a sound that is formed by sticking your tongue out of your mouth slightly. As you stick out your tongue, rest your top front teeth on it gently. Keep your tongue and teeth lightly touching while you prolong the sound. You do not use your voice when you say this sound, so you should only hear air being forced out.
To form the American English "t" sound, place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Hold your breath and then force the sound out. This sound also does not use your voice, so you should hear a puff of air come out of your mouth when you say it.
The word "thing" will sound like "ting" The word "taught' will sound like "taught"
"l" sound "r" sound
Place the tip of your tongue just behind your top front teeth and say "lah."
If you round your lips and pull your tongue high in the back of your mouth, you will create the "r" sound instead.
"ih" sound "ee" sound
Keep your lips and tongue relaxed. Raise your tongue about half-way up inside your mouth. Make sure your tongue is not pressing against the sides of your upper teeth.
If you smile and raise your tongue high in your mouth, you will feel it pressing against your upper side teeth. This will create the "ee" sound instead.
unvoiced "th" sound "t" sound
The key to making the "th" sound is to stick out your tongue and prolong it. Because it is not voiced, you will only hear air being pushed out. Make sure you keep your tongue and teeth in contact while you say it.
If you keep your tongue inside your mouth and place it behind your teeth, you wil create the "t" sound.