fbpx

During COVID-19 Our Virtual Clinic Is Fully Operational

The great wall of China

For a Mandarin native speaker, creating clear and precise English pronunciation may seem like a lot of hard work. You have probably noticed that English and Mandarin are so unlike. It may feel like comparing apples to oranges! Despite how hard some English words may seem to pronounce, don’t despair! If you incorporate a practice routine that focuses around the targets you need to improve, your English pronunciation will get better. Follow these Voice Science tips, tailored for Mandarin Speakers to reduce your Mandarin accent. 

*If you are a Cantonese Speaker, be sure to check out this article tailored for your needs here: CANTONESE SPEAKERS

Some tips to start Mandarin Accent Reduction

Drill the difficult English Consonants

Mandarin has a total of 22 consonants. English, in comparison has 24. Many of the consonants needed for English are not found in Mandarin. If you are trying to perfect  your English accent make sure you have worked on these sounds specific to English. Speaking of English consonants alone there  are at least 12 consonant sounds which can not be found in Standard Chinese. You may have already managed to produce a few of them correctly, in some words. Some other sounds may be much harder to get your tongue around. Take care that the following 3 sounds are clear and accurate if you are aiming for a great English accent. Please note, none of these sounds are present in Mandarin. These sounds are just a few of the sounds you will need to address to ensure clear English. Speak with us at Voice Science for more information on the other key sounds needed according to a comprehensive accent assessment tailored to your current accent.

B /b/

This sound is not present in Mandarin. It can be found in words like bought, abdomen and batch. Take care that this sound is distinct from a p. Listen to the recording and try drilling these words with the same pronunciation:

above

about

disturb

base

beggar

TH /θ/

This sound is the first of two options for th.  It is produced with the tongue between the teeth. Ensure you give the correct duration to this sound. It must not be too short or it will sound like a t

Try drilling these words. 

thrash

thin

bathroom

breath

mouth

SH /ʃ/

This sound is not present in Mandarin and can be at risk of being very distorted if not articulated correctly. It should sound very different from an s. Make sure your lips are sounded when you produce a sh or the sound  will be in error. This sound will not always just occur on an sh. It also can appear with ss (as in fissure), ti (as in patient), and ci (as in precious).

Try these words and check in the mirror that your lips are rounding: 

shape

bashful

fashionable

assure

patient

Consonant Clusters

Unlike Mandarin, English features consonant sounds that are joined together in clusters. The English sound system has both 2 (such as st, gr, bl) and 3 (such as str, skr) element clusters. Thus we have words like flag where the first two sounds “f” and “l” need to be fused together proficiently to be intelligible. There are many more consonant clusters. How you master them, will predict your intelligibility. Take care with English clusters such as tr, st and many more. 

Speech Melody and Intonation

English has a different speech rhythm and melodic pattern to Mandarin. Listen to the inflections of English native speakers. One of the major indicators of accent difference, on top of sound errors, can be incorrect intonation patterns. It is not uncommon to apply the speech intonation of the mother tongue onto a new target language. Since Mandarin follows a tonal system, your English does not follow the tonal patterns of Mandarin.  You may have observed that the English language has a flatter quality compared to Mandarin. Work on linking your words together in English phrases and try to replicate the melody and rhythm of English native speakers. 

Accent reduction takes time and practice. It is not uncommon to still have an accent even after years of expatriate life. An accent can be an asset that sets you ahead. Listeners soon realise you are multi-lingual. Sometimes an accent can interfere with your message. Speech breakdowns can occur and it can be harder to express thoughts clearly to your listener. Don’t give up! Work on your pronunciation weaknesses strategically and practice daily to improve your English.

Read more about our Accent & Pronunciation Programs here.

Accent reduction takes time and practice. It is not uncommon to still have an accent even after years of expatriate life. An accent can be an asset that sets you ahead. Listeners soon realise you are multi-lingual. Sometimes an accent can interfere with your message. Speech breakdowns can occur and it can be harder to express thoughts clearly to your listener. Don’t give up! Work on your pronunciation weaknesses strategically and practice daily to improve your English.

Many non-native speakers opt to consult with a Speech Pathologist to reduce the impact of a foreign accent. 

Voice Science treats from Melbourne to Bangkok, New York, Sydney, Perth … wherever you are via our global service. Our chief, Sarah Lobegeiger de Rodriguez is a senior voice clinician, certified practicing speech pathologist and professional opera singer. She offers face to face and online accent reduction from her Collins St clinic.

CPSP-certified

 

 

 

Diagnostric Accent Assessment Melbourne

 BOOK NOW

See more accent reduction tips for non-native speakers here

Subscribe to the Voice Science YouTube Channel at this link for weekly accent and English language tips.

See more about accent reduction here

 

©Voice Science, 2014 – 2019

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This