French language backgrounds

26 common English pronunciation problems

FIX PROBLEM ENGLISH SOUND - COMMON ERROR - PRACTICE MATERIALS
Relax the mouth and keep sound short. /ɪ/ "sit" /i:/ "seat" Minimal Pairs /ɪ/ or / i: / practice

Keep mouth round and tongue back. /ɒ/ "not"

Minimal Pairs /ɒ/ or /ɔ:/ practice
Minimal Pairs /ɑ:/ or /ɒ/ practice

Tongue low central. Lips relaxed. /ʌ/ "cup"

Minimal Pairs /æ/ or /ʌ/ practice

Drop tongue. Relax mouth. /ʌ/ "hut" /ɜ:/ "hurt" Minimal Pairs /ʌ/ or /ɜ:/ practice

Back of tongue high. Lips rounded but relaxed. Short. /ʊ/ "full" /u:/ "fool" Minimal Pairs /ʊ/ or / u: / practice

Weak endings: e.g. "London" "England" /ə/ "the" (schwa)

Practise the neutral vowel /ə/
using spoken dialogues


Tongue low, back & fixed. Jaws together. /ɔ:/ "bought" /əʊ/ "boat" Minimal Pairs /ɔ:/ or /əʊ/ practice

Tongue moves from front centre to front high. /eɪ/ "late" /e/ "let" Minimal Pairs /e/ or /eɪ/ practice

Start with tongue low front. /aɪ/ "buy"

Minimal Pairs /eɪ/ or /aɪ / practice

Tongue low front to high front to centre. /aɪə/=/aɪ/+/ə/ "fire"


Start with tongue low & back. /ɔɪ/ "boy"


Tongue central. Then tightly round lips. /əʊ/ "note" /ɒ/ "not"
From low front vowel to lips tightly rounded. /aʊ/ "cow"

Minimal Pairs /əʊ/ or /aʊ/ practice

Tongue low front. Then round & unround lips. /aʊə/=/aʊ/+/ə/ "flour"

Minimal Pairs /aʊ/ or /aʊə/ practice

Tongue high and front. Move to centre. /ɪə/ "beer" /eə/ "bear"
Tongue from centre front. Draw back to centre. /eə/ "bear"


Start with lips tightly rounded. Unround. /ʊə/ "tour"


Voiceless. Friction. Tongue between teeth. /θ/ "thin"

Minimal Pairs /θ/ or /ð/ practice
Minimal Pairs /θ/ or /t/ practice
Minimal Pairs /θ/ or /d/ practice
Minimal Pairs /θ/ or /s/ practice

Voiced. Friction. Tongue between teeth. /ð/ "they" /d/ "day" Minimal Pairs /ð/ or /d/ practice

Voiced. Friction. Tongue between teeth. /ð/ "clothe" /z/ "close" /z/
Voiceless. Friction. Front of tongue to palate. /ʃ/ "sherry" /ʧ/ "cherry"
Unvoiced: Tip to alveolar. Front to palate. /ʧ/ "cherry" /ʃ/ "sherry"
Quickly push air from throat out of mouth. /h/ "hot"
"ch" in "loch" Minimal Pairs /h/ or silent "h" practice

British "r" is weaker & usually silent
unless followed by a vowel.
silent "survivor" /r/ "Sir Ivor"
Back of tongue to back roof. Nasal. /ŋk/ "think" /ŋ/ "thing" Minimal Pairs /ŋ/ or /ŋk/ practice

Glide /j/(i:) the tongue quickly to next sound /j/ "yam" /ʤ/ "jam" Minimal Pairs /ʤ/ or /j/ practice

External links:

Non-native pronunciations of English: French L1

Franglais