How Sticking Out Your Tongue When Making "Th" Sounds Improves Your Pronunciation


August 2014
by The Self-Expression Center Team

Many of my accent reduction clients are dismayed at my asking them to stick out their tongues! As a non-native speaker learning to pronounce sounds of English, you may often have to utilize your tongue, teeth and lips more actively than when speaking your native language.

When you see “th” at the beginning of a word, in the middle of a word, or at the end of a word, prepare to show your tongue.

Tips for a Clear Message

Whether it is a soft (voiceless) “th” or a hard (voiced) “th” sound, the positioning of the tongue is the same. Specifically, the tip of the tongue protrudes slightly between your front teeth with the tip of the tongue touching the lower edge of the center front teeth.

If you do not have correct tongue placement when pronouncing the “th” sound, your audience hears a “d” or “t” sound. This simple mispronunciation can change the meaning of your message. For example, you say, “We provide thirty towels for each pool party.” If you do not have proper tongue placement, your listener hears, “We provide dirty towels for each pool party.”

AdditiAdditionally, to avoid “street language” in a professional setting you need to make certain the “th” sound is clear and precise. You want your audience to hear the word “this” not “dis” and “the” not “duh.”

Advantages of Correct Tongue Placement for the “th” Sound

One benefit of developing proper tongue placement for the “th” sound is that you become conscious of proper tongue and mouth action for all pronunciation, resulting in greater clarity overall. A second benefit is that your accent becomes diminished when your pronunciation of English words becomes more precise. A third benefit is that as you develop proper tongue and mouth action, you slow your speech slightly which allows your listeners to better understand your communications. Better understanding leads to more confidence in you and your message.

Take Time Now to Diminish Your Accent

Call 281-293-7070 to request a free twenty-minute, accent-reduction consultation.

Self-Expression Center offers several accent-reduction modalities:

Customized Accent Reduction Programs for Individuals

IndivIndividual coaching for accent reduction or accent modification often lasts for 8 one-hour private sessions. Sandra identifies 8 to 12 specific sounds of English that the foreign-born professional is not pronouncing correctly. For example Asians typically need to learn the consonant sounds of L, R, V, W, N, NG and TH and certain neutral vowels that Americanize their pronunciation. Sandra teaches participants to use their teeth, tongue and lips to form these sounds correctly. They practice in words, sentences and reading aloud. They also practice to integrate the sounds into their daily speech, including industry specific terms. Individual sessions may also be done by telephone or by Skype from anywhere in the world.

Customized Accent Reduction Programs for Small Groups.

Group classes for individuals are offered to small groups of 4 - 6 participants at Self-Expression Center. Participants learn to pronounce the sounds of English that help them be more easily understood when speaking English. Group classes are offered for 4 Fridays during lunch time.

If you would like to organize a small group of friends or colleagues, Sandra can tailor a program specifically customized for your group.

Group classes for corporate employees can be offered at your business location. Groups are most effective when limited to a maximum of 8 people. Industry specific terms are used for practicing correct pronunciation of the words used daily in business.

Request a Complimentary Consultation about Accent Reduction or Accent Modification


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