Polish Speakers’ English Pronunciation Errors

polish-pronunciation

What are the main errors for Polish speakers in English pronunciation?

To precede our Polish speakers’ evening on the 4th December at Pronunciation Studio, here we have highlighted the top 10 pronunciation errors for Polish speakers.

Audio recordings are by Tom Wisniowski (BA/IPA), Pronunciation Studio’s Eastern European accent specialist.

1. th

Polish speakers often replace the two ‘th’ consonant sounds /θ/ and /ð/ with /f/ and /d/:

I think there’s three of them.

2. Voiced Endings

Polish does not contain voiced sounds at the end of syllables, so Polish speakers often devoice the final consonant:

‘bed’ ‘cab’ ‘rag’ ‘love’

3. Aspiration

/p/,  /t/, and /k/ are aspirated in English – they have a big explosive sound when they are released – but not for Polish speakers:

park / came / time

4. Short vowels /æ/ /ʌ/ /ɑ:/

Polish speakers will often mispronounce the vowels /ʌ/, /æ/ and /ɑ:/ as Polish does not contain them, instead the Polish /a/ is often used. The following words should be pronounced with different vowel sounds:

hat hut heart

5. -ing endings

Polish speakers often mispronounce -ing endings in two ways, firstly by adding a /k/, secondly by using an /n/:

I was walking, talking & singing.

6. Consonant / Vowel Joining

In English, where one word ends with a consonant and the next one begins in the vowel, the consonant moves to the next word, not so in Polish:

What are Ed and Janet eating?

7. ʊ diphthongs

English contains two diphthongs (double vowels) ending with ʊ, Polish speakers tend to mispronounce the first part and over stress the second:

Don’t go so slowly.
How now brown mouse?

8. are

‘are’ is a confusing word to pronounce with at least 5 pronunciations in English (see this article), Polish speakers often struggle with it, using just one pronunciation:

Are you ok?
Where are you going?
They aren’t here.

9. r and silent r

/r/ in Polish is rolled – in English it is smooth.

train three dry crash

Also /r/ is silent in English at the end of a syllable:

burn third cart her

10. ‘o’

Polish is a phonetically written language, you say what you see. English is not so much and one spelling that confuses Polish speakers is ‘o’, which can produce 8 pronunciations in English (Polish speakers may use just 2):

got /ɒ/
do /u:/
go /əʊ/
pork /ɔ:/
gold /ɒʊ/
wolf /ʊ/
today /ə/
women /ɪ/

Polish Speakers’ Pronunciation Courses

Join us on 4th December at 19:00 for Pronunciation Studio’s Polish speakers’ evening, where we will go through each error and how to correct each one in speech. It’s free to sign up. Alternatively, take a look at our 2 level accent reduction program.

Japanese Speakers’ English Pronunciation Errors

japanese-pronunciation

What are the main mistakes for Japanese speakers in English pronunciation?

To precede our Japanese speakers’ evening on the 11th December at Pronunciation Studio, here we have highlighted the top 10 pronunciation errors for Japanese speakers.

1. /l/ or /r/

Japanese speakers often confuse the lateral alveolar approximant /l/ with the alveolar approximant /r/:

Roy left the rice in the red trolley.

2. /ə/

There is no neutral vowel in Japanese, speakers tend to say the vowel they see in written form, ignoring the neutral schwa:

Can the prince come today for a chat.

3. Fricatives θ/ð

Fricatives articulated in the front of the mouth are very difficult for Japanese speakers, most noticeably the two ‘th’ sounds: /θ/ and /ð/ which may be replaced by either dental /t/ & /d/ or alveolar /s/ & /z/:

I think the theatre was more than thrilling.

4. 12 vowel positions

Japanese contains 5 vowel positions – /a, e i, o u/, English contains 11: /i ɪ e æ ɜ ʌ ɑ u ʊ ɔ ɒ/, unfortunately, Japanese speakers often speak English with just the 5:

good/food, hit/heat, hat/hurt/hut/heart, port/pot

5. Word stress

There is a tendency for Japanese speakers to place equal stress on each syllable, making long words unclear:

apparently

6. added syllable

Some speakers add a little ‘o’ after consonants at the end of syllables:

Matt made a very nice soup.

7. sentence stress

Japanese speakers often place a roughly equal stress on each syllable of a sentence without using the strong / weak structure of English:

The car was parked on a hill side.

8. Diphthong vowel /əʊ/

One of the hardest English vowel sounds for Japanese speakers is /əʊ/ because it starts neutrally rather than rounded (as the spelling may suggest):

Don’t go so slowly.

9. Joining

There is a tendency to separate words when Japanese speakers pronounce English, instead of joining them with vowels or consonants:

Go over there and ask if we are allowed in.

10. consonant clusters

Some Japanese speakers may place a small vowel between two consonants:

please try three

Japanese Speakers’ Pronunciation Courses

Join us on Wednesday 11th December at 19:00 for Pronunciation Studio’s Japanese speakers’ evening, where we will go through each error and how to correct each one in speech. It’s free to sign up. Alternatively, take a look at our 2 level accent reduction program.

Italian Speakers’ English Pronunciation Errors

italian-pronunciation

What are the main errors for Italian speakers in English pronunciation?

Here we have highlighted the top 10 pronunciation errors experienced by Italian students at Pronunciation Studio:

1. /h/ and silent ‘h’

Italian speakers often miss /h/ when they should say it:

‘house’ ‘how’ ‘horse’ ‘hard’

To compensate, an /h/ sometimes appears where it is not wanted – between two vowels:

“go away”, “she isn’t”

2. Adding a little vowel at the end of a word

When a word ends in a consonant, Italian speakers often add a little ‘a’ afterwards:

“I like them a lot”

3. Open vowel /a/

Italian has only one open unrounded vowel ‘a’, whereas English has 3 – /æ/ in ‘cat’, /ʌ/ in ‘cut’, and /ɑ:/ in ‘cart’. Italian speakers often only use their own ‘a’ in English so these words become ‘cat’ ‘cat’ and ‘cart’.

“I love that park”

4. /ɪ/ vs /i:/

A similar problem in a different area of the mouth occurs with the vowels /ɪ/ and /i:/, which are often pronounced in the same way by Italian speakers, so ‘heat’ and ‘hit’ sound the same except for their length. In fact, the vowel in ‘hit’ should be a lower position.

“Fit it in”

5. Sentence Stress

Italian is a latin language which stresses every syllable. English does not – some need to be weak:

“I want to go to the cinema”

6. Spelling to sound

Italian is a phonetically written language, meaning you say what you see. English is not so much, so a word like ‘particular’ may come out all wrong:

“particular”

7. th

th words cause problems for Italian speaker, often being replaced by a dental t or d:

“I think its the third thing”

8. aspiration

When a p t or k appears in English it is aspirated, so there is an audible explosion in pronunciation. Not so in Italian where it is never aspirated:

“Pass some time on the coast”

9. diphthong ‘o’

Double vowels do not exist in Italian, so when Italian speakers see words like ‘no’, ‘go’ and ‘don’t’, which should be double vowels, they often make a single ‘o’ vowel:

“No, I don’t think so, Joe!”

10. /r/ and silent ‘r’

English r sounds is smooth, Italian r is rolled. Also watch out for ‘r’ after a vowel – it isn’t pronounced in British English, but Italians often pronounce it anyway:

Words with /r/: raw, right, wrong, red

Words with silent ‘r': word, car, father, four

Pronunciation Courses – Online & in London

Pronunciation Studio offers a wide range of courses to improve second language speakers’ pronunciation skills. These are available in our school in Central London & online via Skype anywhere in the world. Learn more about courses and see a free sample. 

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