English pronunciation often causes problem to non-native speakers. For example, it is easy to confuse [r] with [l]. I remember hearing this in-flight announcement: “This is your captain speaking… It is my pressure to serve you… Enjoy the fright.”
Why are you smiling? I couldn’t when I heard it.
Another difficult area is the [th] sound. Both the Shanghainese and German accent pronounce this consonant as [s] or [z].
Zerefore, when you discuss philosophy wiz a German, he says: “I sing, zerefore I am.” And when you join ze Huangpu River cruise in Shanghai, ze operator says: “Many Sank”. Come to zink of it, I did have a sinking feeling while on zat boat.
Here’s my three-step guide to pronouncing [th] right:
- Place the tip of your tongue between the two rows of teeth.
- Read “The Smiths wear thin clothes throughout the winter months.” Repeat until perfect.
- Stop tongue bleeding.
If your tongue’s not bleeding, you didn’t bite it; if you didn’t bite it, you didn’t try hard enough.