Did I Say That Right?

Have you ever wondered or even asked yourself or someone else that question?

Pronouncing words in a foreign language can be challenging. Sometimes no matter how hard we try we just can’t seem to pronounce certain words the way they should sound, but that’s not so bad. Don’t worry about not being able to pronounce things perfectly. Sometimes all we can do is to pronounce things as best we can.

Tongue Tied

There are certain words in a foreign language that our tongues simply cannot seem to get out the right way. Being an ESL teacher of English to speakers of German, I know this to be all to common. For instance, Germans have trouble with English words that have the letters “th” in them – like “Keith” or “this” for example.

We Americans have trouble with German words that have umlauts in them. Umlauts are a marks used over a vowel, especially in German, to show that the vowel has a different sound than normal, like in “Schwäbish Gmünd,” a city in southern Germany. It took me many years of practice before I managed to be able to say the name of that city much better – but of course still not as good as a native speaker.

Sometimes it’s very important to pronounce certain words correctly or you run the risk of the listener being confused about what you are saying. As in the words “food” and “foot.” When saying the word “food” make sure that you stretch out the “oo” so that it’s more clear – kind of like saying “fooood.” If you say the word too quickly then it may sound like you are saying the word “foot.” I don’t think you want the listener to understand the wrong thing!

Most Important

What matters more than pronouncing things perfectly is trying to do the best we can. That means practice, practice, practice! Or as I always tell my students – Read, Read, Read! Reading out loud is a great way for your tongue to get used to saying words in English. Using Graded Readers  is a great way to practice and improve your English – especially when you also have the audio version  of the book so that you can listen and then repeat what you hear.

So remember, don’t worry about pronouncing things perfectly, just do the best you can and always try to improve.

The program “Espresso English” has a great lesson about pronouncing English words that end in the letters “ILE.” You can check it out here.

Thanks for reading this blog post. I hope it is helpful for you or someone you know.

Yours in English-speaking Success,

John L. Brewer 

6 thoughts on “Did I Say That Right?”

  1. I try to repeat aloud what I hear in different movies, or even after Google Translate.
    Very interesting also the article with the words ending in -ILE!

  2. John, you are too right, the TH is difficult for us. I had a hard time getting people to rather do a ‘d’ instead of an ‘s’ when singing English songs because the ‘s’ would sound horribly harsh 🙂

    1. Lol, I know what you mean. I teach my students that sometimes if you say a word the wrong way it can sound quite rude.

  3. Good article John.

    Made me think about a lof of the soccer crowd
    I spent a lot of time learning to understand.

    Believe in reading and one more thing listening.
    Says more about us learning about them then vice versa.

  4. Hey Fran,

    Reading is so very important. It also improves your vocabulary very much.

    When I first met my wife she already spoke pretty good English (she’s German), but when we lived in the states when I was a soldier she started reading English and watching lots of television.

    The great thing is, she LOVES to read, therefore she has a huge English vocabulary.

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