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Problematic consonant sounds
Let's view five problems in the pronunciation of consonants that are common at least for East Slavic language speakers.
1) Not voicing sounds at the end of a word
If the word ends in d, g, b, z or a pattern that has one of these voiced sounds, it is vital not to make it voiceless. Otherwise, we can hear a completely different word!
led /d/ — let /t/
lag /g/ — lack /k/
buzz /z/ — bus /s/
2) Confusing /v/ and /w/
The letters v and w have two different sounds. When pronouncing /w/, the lips are put forward and rounded. When pronouncing /v/, the lower lips are slightly put behind or against the upper teeth. Let's listen to the word pairs:
3) Pronunciation of r
It is important to remember the following about the tricky letter r:
it has its unique pronunciation in English that should be trained
we do not pronounce r after vowels
In a stressed syllable, a vowel + r can have three sounds:
For the correct pronunciation of /θ/ (like in think) and /ð/ (like in this) the tip of the tongue should lie between the teeth. /θ/ is a voiceless sound and /ð/ is voiced. If you mix these sounds up with /s/ or /z/, there is a chance of saying the wrong word.
sank /s/ — thank /θ/
sing /s/ — thing /θ/
zen /s/ — then /ð/
5) Mispronouncing ng
To get the right nasal sound /ŋ/, we slightly open the mouth, press the back of the tongue against the soft palate and let the air go through the nose.
Please notice that we do not always pronounce /g/ after /ŋ/:
/ŋ/ if ng is at the end of a word or root word
sing, singer, thing, rang, waiting
/ŋg/ in a comparative or superlative forms
longer, longest, stronger, strongest
/ŋg/ if ng is not at the end of the word or root
finger, angry, language, England
The letter n combined with k (like in tank) also sounds like /ŋ/.