Do you get the ‘th’ sound wrong in English?
If you are having trouble pronouncing the ‘th’ sound and using it fluently in your speech, you aren’t the only one!
A lot of people have trouble pronouncing this sound because most languages don’t have this sound. So, it means you need to learn a totally new way of placing your tongue in your mouth.
Just to add ‘interest’ to the situation, the ‘th’ can also be said with or without switching on your voice at the same time- ‘th’ in ‘that’ is voiced, and ‘th’ in ‘think’ isn’t voiced.
Produce the ‘th’ sound more easily
First, practice in front of a mirror! This allows you to see how to move your mouth better for the sound. Make sure you feel your top teeth holding your tongue in place on your bottom teeth. Feel the cool air going over your tongue especially for the unvoiced ‘th.’ Hold the ‘th’ on slightly longer before you move to other sounds in the word.
If you are having difficulty saying the sound in words then make a slight break between the ‘th’ and the rest of the word. For example th- ink. Do this over and over a few times.
When you do this, you are creating new muscle memory in your mouth for the new movement of the ‘th.’ Then, hold the ‘th’ on slightly longer and run it into the rest of the word.
How to use the ‘th’ sound more fluently in everyday speech
– Practice over and over till your mouth can say ‘th’ words smoothly and easily.
Most people think once they can say the ‘th’ sound that’s all they need to do.
Then they wonder why they can’t do it all the time when they are speaking.
– Practice phrases that have a word ending in a consonant before a word beginning with a voiced ‘th’. For example:-
on the; in this; give those; about the; on that;
send them; find the; have the; tell the; call them.
This is important to paractice, otherwise it is easy to go back to saying /z/ or /d/ in these combinations in everyday speech. Practise two ‘th’ words in a row ( voiced and unvoiced). People usually say the first one correctly and then forget the second one.
Here come the tongue twisters! Try these:-
there they are; I think that; the other thing; the north path; that third door; this brother; then the toothpaste on the toothbrush.
– If you say /d/ or /z/ for ‘th’, then pay attention when you are speaking to feel if your tongue is sticking out as it should.
– Play a game, and decide that every time you speak to someone in a certain situation e.g. in a shop, you will slow down and make sure you use your ‘th’ sound correctly to get practice in the real world.