How to pronounce sounds in English for learners of English as a Foreign Language.



There are many sounds that those who do not speak English as a first language find difficult to pronounce.



”TH” sound th does not exist in many foreign languages. It exists in Castilian Spanish where ‘S’ is pronounced as ”th”. It exists in Arabic and in many Indian languages.



The ”TH” sound th is pronounced by putting your tongue one milimetre in front of your teeth. Your tongue should be touching your upper deck of teeth.

TH exists in many very common English words such as this, that, then, these, those, they, them and so on.

You can practise by saying 33, 333 and 33 333.

Note that some words beginning with ‘TH’ are not pronounced th such as Thomas or Thames.

Many native speakers of English get this wrong and use a ‘z’, ‘v’ or ‘f’ instead of TH but it is still wrong. Londoners often pronounced mother and brother as ”movver and brovver” .They say thanks and ”fanks. ” Native speakers of English are not always right. Some people speak their mother tongue badly.

Irish people sometimes pronounce it as ‘t’ or ‘d’ as in bruder, muder or ”boat” instead of ”both.”

If you are v advanced think about voiced TH and unvoiced TH.

”THRough” is unvoiced and ”though” the ”TH” is voiced. In a voiced ”TH” you press your tongue  against  your teeth. In unvoiced the tongue merely touched the teeth but does not press


The ”H” sound does not exist in some foreign languages. Speakers of French, Spanish and Italian have difficulty with ”H”.

Show you with paper.

When you pronounce ”H” the paper moves/. WHy? Because air is coming out of your mouth.

H is pronounced in many very frequently used words such as hello, hi, how, house and home. H is also pronounced in ”wh” words such as  ”who”, ”whom”, ”where”, ”when, ”why” etc….

Make sure your exhale when pronounced H.

Confusing ”H” is silent in some words such as hour, honour and honest.

Native speakers of Russian sometimes find ”H” difficult because you confuse it with the Cyrillic letter than looks like ”X”. That is the first letter of horosho.

You might say hotel as ”khotel”

You are raising the centre of your tongue to your pallet. That is wrong in English. Make the H sound by breathing out.



For native speakers of Arabic ‘B’ and ‘P’ are tricky.

B does not cause air to come out. P causes air to come out.

Arabic speakers have no trouble with H because you pronounce it a lot on your own language


W sound. Push your lips out – pucker them.

This is not to be confused with V. V is made by pressing the upper teeth into the lower lip like a rabbit’s teeth.

Indians and Pakistanis sometimes get this wrong as they languages tend not to distinguish V and W.


Look very carefully at the mouth of a native speaker. Ask an educated person to pronounced difficult sounds slowly and carefully. Think about the exact positioning of their lips and tongue as the speaker produces the sound.




About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

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