Pronunciation Problems in China For the ESL teacher in China, it is

For the ESL teacher in China, it is vitally important to understand common pronunciation problems the Chinese student has pronouncing English words.

Using the internet, one can find several websites that provide important information regarding these common pronunciation problems.

First it is important to understand why the Chinese have difficulty pronouncing English.

A search on the internet provides the following link:,

On this website, Cheng Fanggzhi, an associate professor at Binzhou Teachers´ College in Shandong Province, China has an article titled 'The Teaching of Pronunciation to Chinese Students of English'.

According to Cheng Fangzhi, the Chinese students have great difficulty with 'gap' consonants such as: 'v' as in 'van', ''' as in 'think', ''' as in 'the', 'S' as in 'ship', 'tS' as in 'cheap', 'dZ' as in 'jazz'/.

Cheng Fangzhi states these 'gap' vowels are often replaced either by another English consonant or by a similar Chinese one.

For instance, 'v' in 'very' is often pronounced as 'w'; ''' in think as 's'; 'tS' in cheap like the Chinese "qi" pronounced 'chee' and 'dZ' in 'judge' like the Chinese "ji' pronounced like English 'gee'.

Cheng states that students tend to insert vowels between English consonant clusters, or put a vowel after the final consonant.

Thus, spring and desk are produced as 'soprng ah' and 'desk ah' respectively.

The main distinctive feature in Chinese consonants is 'aspiration' or 'non- aspiration'.

The Chinese speaker of English tends to apply the same distinction in English. 'aspirating' the voiced consonants and 'unaspirating' the voiceless consonants.

These are some of the reasons that prevent Chinese students from acquiring a native-like accent

Another website that is particularly useful is the Ted Power web page having the following website address:

Accordin g to this web page, there are 27 common pronunciation problems for Chinese speakers.

These pronunciation problems are listed below along with the suggested 'fix' of the problem.

1.'they'pronounced'day':Fix: Voiced friction between the tongue and lips

2.'man' pronounced'men':Fix: Move tongue to lower front position

3.'ran' pronounced 'run':Fix: Keep tongue and front and jaws apart

4.'cat'pronounced'cart':Fix:Keep tongue and front and jaws apart

5.'not' pronounced 'naught' Fix:Keep mouth round and sound short

6.'god' pronounced'good'Fix:Keep mouth round and tongue back

7.'fool' pronounced 'full'Fix:Back of tongue high, lips tightly rounded, long

8.'cup'pronounced'capah'Fix:Tongue low central. lips relaxed

9.'cup' pronounced 'cap'Fix:Tongue more central, lips relaxed

10.'bill' pronounced 'pill'Fix:Voiced, vibration, trap air with lips

11.'van' pronounced 'fan'Fix:Voiced, friction with top teeth and bottom lip

12.'vet' pronounced 'wet'Fix:Voiced, friction with top teeth & bottom lip

13.'seat'pronounced 'sit'Fix:Spread lips more and keep tongue high

14.'thin' pronounced 'sin'Fix:Voiceless, friction, tongue between teeth

15.'hot' pronounced 'hotah'Fix:Quickly push air from throat out of mouth

16.'clothe' pronounced 'close'Fix:Voiced, friction, tongue between lips

17.'made'pronounced 'mate'Fix:Tip of tongue behind top of top teeth

18.'rise' pronounced 'rice'Fix:Voiced, tip of tongue behind top teeth with friction

19.'push' pronounced'poosha' Fix:Voiceless, friction, front of tongue to palate

20.'cherry' pronounced'jerry'Fix:Unvoiced, tip of alveolar, front to palate

21.'wage'pronounced'wajah' Fix:Unvoiced, tip to alveolar, front to palate

22.'thing'pronounced 'think'Fix:Voiced stop, back of tongue to back of roof

23.'spoon' pronounced 'spool'Fix:Tongue touches alveolar ridge, nasal

24.'tall'pronounced'taah'Fix:Contact, brief 'schwa' after release

25.'light' pronounced 'right'Fix:Tongue touches hard palate

26.'right'pronounced 'light'Fix:Sides of tongue to back teeth, tip points up

27.'thin' pronounced 'tin'Fix:Voiceless, friction, tongue between lips

Knowing the above pronunciations are common problems for Chinese learning English, will provide the ESL teacher with some valuable insight. The website also provides a valuable tool to help the Chinese student learn English pronunciation.

The importance of learning the phonemic alphabet also is emphasized. Learning how one instructs a student to reproduce the correct sounds is also very important.

A phonetics program that can be very fun and useful is found at the following link.

The ITTT Unit 13 provides valuable lessons that can also be used to great advantage teaching the Chinese student.