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
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