Why Don’t People Understand My Pronunciation?

Confused manOne of the things that make language study so challenging is your own language background, and its “distance” from English in terms of grammar, pronunciation and use of vocabulary. For example, Korean, Japanese and Chinese students of English have to study a new alphabet just to get started, and English grammar is always tricky for students from this region.

English is a tough language to learn for many people from Asian countries, and Vietnam is no exception. Native speakers of Vietnamese also have particular areas of difficulty, and it is a good idea to be aware of what they are, why they occur, and how to overcome them.

Vietnamese students are fortunate in that their native language has a similar alphabet to English; instead, their biggest problem is pronunciation.

There is one difficulty in particular that I would like to mention here – consonant clusters or groups (for example, street, contracts).

Particularly in Northern Vietnam, there are no consonant clusters in everyday speech. Even in words like trước and trường, the “tr” sound is pronounced very similarly to a “ch” sound, not like the “tr” in tree.

The result from this is that Vietnamese students of English will always struggle to pronounce words that have more than one consonant together – for example, how well can you say colleagues, blizzards and clothes?  It’s not easy!

What Can You Do About This?
First of all, you need to learn the Phonetic Alphabet:

ˈɛvri  wɜrd  ɪn  ðə  ˈdɪkʃəˌnɛri  ɪz  spelt  laɪk  ðɪs

and if you can understand what I just wrote, congratulations! Every time you look up a new word in the dictionary, you will know exactly how it is pronounced.

Secondly, you need to drill yourself on some difficult words with double or triple consonants by breaking up the sounds. Take the word colleagues, for instance.

  • Start by saying the last sound (gz) over and over again.
  • Now try to say “leagues” (lɪ:gz) many times until you master it.
  • Got it yet? You should now be able to say “colleagues” quite easily.

Click to listen:

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You can do this with any difficult words whenever you have free time, even while you are driving to work! (but make sure you pay attention while you are on the road)

What Do You Think?
Are you aware of the unique problems Vietnamese learners have when learning English? Do you practice pronouncing consonant clusters? Do you have any other methods for improving English pronunciation that you can share? Let us know in the comments area below jumper for sale in los angeles!