English pronunciation tips for Arabic background language speakers

10 great Eng­lish tips for Ara­bic Speak­ers


I thought this time it was the Ara­bic back­ground speak­ers turn so here are 10 great Eng­lish tips for Ara­bic Speak­ers.

The 10 Great Eng­lish Pro­nun­ci­a­tion Tips for Ara­bic Speak­ers:

1. Short and long Vow­el sounds

Make sure you pay atten­tion to whether a vow­el is short or long. For exam­ple the dif­fer­ence between ‘i’ and ‘ee’ or ‘e’ and ‘ee’. You could prac­tise say­ing words that are the same except for the long or short vow­el.

Prac­tise say­ing kep (not a real word) and keep and make sure you hold the ‘ee’ sound on slight­ly longer than you usu­al­ly would. Do the same for met and meet; bet and beat; set and seat.   You could then put the 2 words in the same sen­tence and make sure you hold the sec­ond one longer (over do it at first to get the idea). e.g., They met for a meeting at a legal (said ‘lee­gal’ ) office. He bet he could beat him to the cor­ner.

2. Is the con­so­nant said with voice switched on or not?

In Eng­lish there is a dif­fer­ence between the /p/ and /b/ sounds, the /f/ and /v/ sounds and the /k/ and /g/ sounds. The /p/, /f/ and /k/ sounds aren’t said with any voice switched on. Try  whis­per­ing the /p/, /f/ and /k/ and you will get the idea. To say it in a word, start by say­ing the word in two parts for a bit and then put it back togeth­er. Say the /p/, leave a small gap and then say the rest of the word. Get your mouth used to going from a whis­pered sound to a vow­el. For exam­ple, p (whis­pered) -at, p-en, p-ut, p-an. Then slow­ly put the words togeth­er keep­ing the /p/ unvoiced.   You  could also say the voiced and unvoiced sounds in words. e.g., big pig or bin pin etc ( you can’t say big big twice you have to do some­thing dif­fer­ent the sec­ond time!)

You can do the same for the /f/ and /k/ sounds.

3. The /h/ sound

There is only a voice­less /h/ sound in Eng­lish. There is no con­stric­tion. It is the sound made when some­one sighs. You may have to prac­tise say­ing the word in two parts again at first to get your mouth used to say­ing the sighed /h/ and then the rest of the word. For exam­ple, h-at said a few times with a break between the/ h/ and the ‘at’. Then run it togeth­er  ‘hhat’ – hold the new /h/ sound on a bit longer.

4. Anoth­er one of the great Eng­lish tips for Ara­bic speak­ers is prac­tise the ‘th’ and ‘ng’ sounds in words

As there is no ‘th’ sound in Ara­bic, it is a new sound that you will need to prac­tise which will make you much clear­er in Eng­lish. As well as this, in Eng­lish the /g/ sound is not pro­nounced in the two let­ter con­so­nant ‘ng’. It doesn’t sound like /n/ or /g/, but a total­ly dif­fer­ent sound. (lis­ten to the pro­duc­tion of ‘ng’ in the con­so­nant sec­tion of my pro­gram).

5. Word stress and mean­ing in Eng­lish

Dif­fer­ent stress or empha­sis on dif­fer­ent syl­la­bles in a word or words in a sen­tence, may change the mean­ing. Lis­ten to how a word is stressed in Eng­lish. Pay atten­tion to where the empha­sis is placed. For exam­ple,  ob ject- with the first syl­la­ble stressed, is a noun mean­ing a thing;    ob ject – with the sec­ond syl­la­ble stressed, is a verb mean­ing to dis­agree to some­thing.

Be care­ful that object is valu­able.           The lawyer objected to the way his client was being treat­ed.

6. Pro­nun­ci­a­tion of con­so­nant blends- two con­so­nants said togeth­er

Prac­tise say­ing two con­so­nants togeth­er with­out putting anoth­er sound (usu­al­ly a vow­el) between them. For exam­ple the /s/ and /t/ in ‘step’ run togeth­er. There isn’t an /e/ sound between the /s/ and /t/. It isn’t ‘setep’.   Prac­tise say­ing /s/ and /t/ togeth­er for a bit before you put them in a word.

You can use the same prin­ci­ple for the oth­er con­so­nant blends.

7. Pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the /r/ sound

The /r/ sound is not trilled or vibrat­ed  in Eng­lish. The tongue is held up towards the roof of the mouth- but not touch­ing- in the mid­dle of the mouth. The sound is just made by hold­ing your tongue in this posi­tion and the tip of the tongue tight­ens as you add voice in your throat.

 8. Is it ‘sh’ or ‘j’

In Eng­lish ‘sh’ and ‘j’ are said as sep­a­rate sounds. make sure you prac­tise this. The ‘sh’ sound is pro­nounced as a long whis­pered sound or unvoiced ( you don’t switch on your voice in your throat). The ‘j’ sound is pro­nounced as a quick/short sound (you can’t hold it on long in your mouth), and it is voiced. Often Ara­bic back­ground speak­ers say ‘sh’ instead of ‘j’ in words. You need to prac­tise the ‘j’ sound.

Try these pairs:

sheep- jeep;  show- Joe;   bash- badge;  esh (not a real word) – edge

9. When don’t I pro­nounce the /r/ sound?

If you are learn­ing a British or Aus­tralian accent don’t pro­nounce the /r/ in the fol­low­ing sounds -unless the /r/ is fol­lowed by a vow­el-:-  or, ar, er, ir, ur, wor. these are con­sid­ered as vow­els e.g., or – form,  ar- art,  er- her,  ir- first,  ur- burn,  wor- word.

If you are learn­ing an Amer­i­can accent the /r/ is pro­nounced in all of the above exam­ple words- but don’t for­get to use the Amer­i­can /r/.


10. Is it /t/ or ‘ch’ ?

Pay atten­tion to whether a word has a /t/ or ‘ch’ in it. For exam­ple  it isn’t  ‘what, but watch ( the /t/ is silent in this word),  it isn’t ‘beat’ but beach.  The same goes for   mat- match , mutt – much etc


Give some time and prac­tise to all of these 10 great Eng­lish tips for Ara­bic speak­ers and notice your speech become clear­er in Eng­lish.

Just 15 min­utes prac­tise a day  makes a big dif­fer­ence!


Best wish­es,  Esther

P.s. I would love to hear your feed­back! Leave me a com­ment in the com­ments sec­tions below. Or, click the share but­ton below to share it with your friends on Face­book, Twit­ter or Google+.

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