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the

HABIT BREAKER
for the 5 Most Commonly
Mispronounced Consonant Sounds
in Standard British English

Inside

NG
TH
R
H
Z

2 Week ACTION PLAN


Copyright 2015 Ashley Howard

Ashley Howard has asserted his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, including the accompanying audio, in any form of
binding or cover or circulated electronically without prior permission of Edwin Publishing and Media Ltd.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN: 978-0-9933602-1-3

Edwin Publishing and Media Ltd

First published in 2015 by Edwin Publishing and Media Ltd


57 London Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 1BS
www.edwinpublishing.co.uk

Disclaimer:

The information in this book has been compiled by way of general guidance in relation to the specific subjects addressed, but is not
a substitute for individual professional guidance on specific circumstances. Please consult a medical professional before beginning
any physical exercises or speech related exercises, particularly if you have known specific issues that may influence their general
safety and efficacy. If you engage in the exercises in this book, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating
in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge the author and publisher from any and
all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of the author or publishers negligence.
the
HABIT-BREAKER
for the 5 Most Commonly Mispronounced
Consonant Sounds in Standard British English

2 WEEK ACTION PLAN

adapted, written and illustrated by

Ashley Howard
Hello Again!

Wow, you must really be serious about this! Youve taken your next giant leap on your pronunciation
roadmap journey towards speaking British English with more clarity and more confidence.

This is the perfect and logical next step in the journey - breaking your old pronunciation habits.
Which is why weve called this the habit-breaker - because it will help you to identify your current
habits, change towards new habits and then practice them until they become your new habit. Simple
really.

And to help you do this, weve suggested that you work on each of the 5 consonants for 3 days
before moving on to the next, so that you have time to get the hang of one sound before moving on.

Your 2-Week Plan

Page

DAY 1 - 3 the NG consonant sound 1



DAY 4 - 6 the TH consonant sound 5

DAY 7 - 9 the H consonant sound 10

DAY 10 - 12 the R consonant sound 12

DAY 13 - 15 the Z consonant sound 17

BONUS A How To for integrating new habits into live speech 21

How To Download The Audio


If you have downloaded this as a PDF, the audio icons are not clickable. If you download the EPUB
version of this, then most devices will allow the audio icons to be interactive and you can then simply
click on the icons and hear the audio examples. Instead, you could continue to use this PDF version
and simply download the audio files and use the numbers next to the audio icons to corrispond with
the track numbers. To download the audio:

1. Login to the members area: www.englishpronunciationroadmap.com/members-area/login/


2. Click on Habit Breaker Consonants in the top menu
3. Scroll down and find the relevant AUDIO downloads
4. Click to download and the zip file should start to download, but if it doesnt heres a How to
download... guide www.englishpronunciationroadmap.com/how-to-download-audio-and-pdf-files/
Any Helpful Advice Before I Start?

Just follow the 4-STEP PLAN

STEP 1 - What do I know?

This is just a quick reminder of what you learnt about each vowel sound from the 5 Day
Audio MINI COURSE.

STEP 2 - What is my HABIT?

Read, listen and try out each of the common habits and identify which one best describes
or sounds like your habit.

STEP 3 - How to I change my HABIT?

Once youve identified your habit, find the same coloured fix it icon in the section on
the next page to break your habit. Read, listen and try out the exercises to encourage
the new pronounciation.

STEP 4 - Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice the final words and sentences for 3 days, and then move on to the next work
day.

And use the handy colour-coded icons

Tells you how much time to set aside to fully explore each workday.

The most IMPORTANT icons - they are at the end of each habit in step 2. Once you
know your habit, go to the corresponding icon in step 3 to learn how to break your habit.

Audio for each example - listening is key to your progress.

Suggests that you record yourself, so that you can listen and compare.

Thats it - good luck and go for it!

And if you need me at any point, just reach out and I or one of team will help you:

support@englishpronunciationroadmap.com
the NG consonant sound

DAY 1-3
STEP 1 - What do I know? Set Aside
20min
So, heres what you learnt from the DAY 1 of the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE:

Target Sound: the NG consonant sound

Phonetic symbol: phonetic symbol -

Pronunciation: In an RP accent the NG sound is made with the back of the tongue raising up
in the back of the mouth, touching the beginning of the soft palate which
encourages the sound up into the nose. The jaw is loose and the teeth and
the lips loosely are apart. This sound is voiced.

STEP 2 - What is my HABIT?

Read, listen and try out the following habits and identify which one best describes or sounds like
what you do.

- Are you unnecessarily adding a G sound?

The g is almost always silent. If you add the G sound, youre making two sounds, which we could
describe as two separate parts: firstly, the back of the tongue rises up in the back of the mouth, touches
the beginning of the soft palate, which encourages the sound to travel exclusively through the nose,
as it should; then secondly, the soft palate lifts you may not be able to feel this, but if you slow the
sound down, the result is that the soft palate blocks the entrance to the nose, so the vibrations stop
and gather momentarily - and then the back of the tongue drops suddenly, releasing a G sound. It is
this second part that should be avoided. Listen to the following words, firstly spoken with an NG
sound followed by a G sound, then only with an NG sound as they should be in RP: hang, rung, ring,
thing, emailing, asking, eating, sleeping, writing and speaking. If you do this, go to
2
NG sound G sound

1
the NG consonant sound

DAY 1-3
- Are you replacing an NG sound with an N sound?

Some speakers replace the NG sound with an N sound as in nine when it is written as an ing suffix
as in emailing, asking, eating, sleeping, writing, reading and speaking. This means that the tongue
tip touches the area just in front of the alveolar ridge (some speakers place the tongue tip further back)
instead of the back of the tongue rising and touching the soft palate. Listen to the words, firstly spoken
with an N sound and then with an NG sound as they should in RP. If you do this, go to
4
N sound

- Is the back of your tongue not fully touching your soft palate?

Some speakers raise the back of the tongue towards the soft palate, but leave a small space in between.
This means that the vibrations travel through the mouth as well as the nose, so in a word like song,
the vowel is longer, slightly more nasal in quality and the back of the tongue raises up but doesnt fully
touch the back of roof of the mouth and the NG sound isnt fully made. Listen to the following words,
firstly spoken without the back of the tongue touching the soft palate and then with an NG sound
as they should be in RP: hang, rung, ring, thing, emailing, asking, eating, sleeping, writing and
speaking. If you do this, go to
6

STEP 3 - How to I change my HABIT?

Once youve identified your habit, find the same coloured fix it icon in the section on the next page
to break your habit. Read, listen and try out the exercises to encourage the new pronounciation.

- How do I avoid a G sound when the NG is at the end of a word?

A G sound is made with a sudden release of the back of the tongue. It belongs to the plosive group of
consonants. Whereas an NG sound without the final G sound is more continuous and flowing the
sound travels up into the nose.

Whilst there are some exceptions where the G should be spoken which well look at under Are
there any exceptions? on the following page a good way to start might be to lengthen the NG sound
at the end of a word like sing and then slowly reduce the volume of your voice - like turning down
the volume dial of a speaker - so that the NG fades into silence instead of ending suddenly. Its a bit
like the sound of sailors singing on a little boat that travels out across the ocean, getting smaller and
smaller, quieter and quieter, gradually disappearing over the horizon. Or the sound of a motorbike

2
the NG consonant sound

DAY 1-3
fading into the distance. Whilst doing this, keep the back of the tongue raised up in the back of your
mouth, touching the beginning of the soft palate, and avoid any movement or release. Whilst the NG
sound is not as long as this in conversational speech, it might help you to feel and hear the possibility
of the back of the tongue staying still and the sound being longer and uninterrupted. It might look a
bit like:

sinnnnnnnnnnn nng
7
Repeat the same exercise with the following words:

hang rung ring sang sing song thing king gong


8
- How do I avoid the unnecessary G when the NG is followed by a vowel sound?

When the NG sound is followed by a vowel sound, the back of the tongue has to move down
into its position for the vowel sound. If this happens too suddenly you may be making a G sound
inadvertently. So the back of the tongue should release from the soft palate slowly.

Whilst there are some exceptions where the G should be spoken which well look at under the
subsection below Are there any exceptions? a good way to start might be to lengthen the NG sound
at the end of a word like sing with a finger on the top of your nose to feel the vibrations of your
voice travelling continuously to your finger. If you were to say singer, the vibrations should continue,
as you encourage the back of the tongue to peel slowly away from the soft palate. Its a bit like a
drawbridge being lowered slowly in the back of your mouth. As your tongue peels down the vibrations
slowly release out of your mouth for er the SCHWA vowel sound. So if you are pronouncing the
G sound the vibrations to your nose will stop suddenly rather than gradually. Play with the following
words using the same exercise: 9

sang out bring up hang up song and dance wing it


10
This peeling NG sound also happens within many words heres a useful pattern to notice. If
the -er suffix is added to a verb making it noun, as in singer, or if the -ing suffix is added for a
continuous verb form, as in swinging, the G should not be pronounced. Play the same peeling NG
game with these words:

singer winger dead ringer clinger-on ringing banging swinging


11
Theres a bit more info on the -er suffix rule in the section below entitled When should I pronounce
the G in an ng?.

- How do I avoid replacing an NG with an N in ing suffixes?

Most speakers instinctively make an NG sound in words like bring, ring and sing where the NG
is not a suffix. So long as you are avoiding an unnecessary G sound, making a second NG when the
suffix ing is added to these words is about repetition and rhyme. Say singing and feel the back of the
tongue rise up in the back of your mouth, touching the beginning of the soft palate for the first

3
the NG consonant sound

DAY 1-3
ng, and encourage the back of the tongue to peel away and then repeat the exact same movement
for the second ng. Play with the following words:
12

bringing ringing singing pinging flinging winging wringing


hanging emailing asking eating sleeping writing reading speaking
13
- How do I get the back of my tongue to fully touch my soft palate?

A good way to start might be to use other sounds where the back of the tongue fully touches the
soft palate, like a G or K sound. Say gag and keg to feel this. The only difference between the K and
G sounds in comparison to an NG sound is that the sound is stopped and released suddenly (K/G)
instead of passing continuously up and out through the nose (NG). Compare this difference in words
like back, bag and bang. The back of the tongue rises and touches the soft palate for all three words,
but for bang, the soft palate remains low, so the sound continues to pass up through the nose. Play
with the following words: 14

lock long kick king Rick ring bag bang hag hang rag rang
15

> Are there any exceptions?

As most non-native speakers rely on spelling to help guide them towards pronunciation, the written
ng can be misleading when speaking in an RP accent. Whilst a written ng is mostly spoken as
the single NG sound described above, there are some exceptions. These are explained fully in the
complete eBook - British English Pronunciation Roadmap: A Clear Path To Clear Speech.

STEP 4 - Practice, practice, practice for 3 days, then look at DAY 7-9.

> Practice words and typical spellings for the NG sound

NG bring hang ring rang strong thing wrong young


among hanger belong ING (suffix) being calling boiling clearing
evening lighting missing meeting morning during living playing saying
something nothing washing willing N (followed by a K sound) bank drunk
stink think anchor blanket function puncture tranquil conquer
sanction distinct instinct punctuation
16
> Practice Sentences

Ive been asking Andrew to clarify the emailing and filing policies for months.
Wearing Lycra and dancing madly is not something I feel comfortable doing in public!
We walked along the river in Kettering on Sunday and it was snowing like mad.
They rang every hour yesterday Im going crazy! Its alarming! Its infuriating!
17

4
the TH consonant sound

DAY 4-6
STEP 1 - What do I know? Set Aside
20min
So, heres what you learnt from the DAY 2 of the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE:

Target Sound: the TH consonant sound

Phonetic symbol: (voiced) and (voiceless)

Pronunciation: The TH sound is made with the tongue tip gently touching just behind or just
under the top front teeth. The body of the tongue is long and thin and its sides
are not touching any of the other teeth. There is a voiceless and voiced TH
sound, so the breath or vibration should be able to come out through your
mouth around your tongue. The jaw is loose and the teeth and the lips loosely
are apart.

18

LOOK - Something you dont know!

> When should a TH be voiceless and when should it be voiced?

Unfortunately there is no pattern for you to follow. One way to be sure is to look at the phonetic
transcription in a dictionary. Most speakers know instinctively when to use each sound and once you
have clarified words of which you are uncertain, you will soon build familiarity and confidence. Here
are some examples:

Voiceless Voiced

thing mathematics these with


thought Matthew this brothers
Thursday sixth then weather
throw bath that bathe
thimble path those loathe

19

5
the TH consonant sound

DAY 4-6
STEP 2 - What is my HABIT?

Read, listen and try out the following habits and identify which one best describes or sounds like
what you do.

The TH sound is not used in many other languages and so a lot of non-native speakers pronounce
the TH incorrectly or replace it altogether with another sound.

- Are you replacing a voiceless TH with an F, S or T sound?

Some speakers replace a voiceless TH sound with either an F sound - so thought might sound more
like fought; an S sound so thank you might sound more like sank you; or a T sound - so both
might sound more like boat. If you do this, go to 20

- Are you replacing a voiced TH with a V, Z or D sound?

Some speakers replace a voiced TH with either a V sound - so gather might sound more like gaver;
a Z sound - so these might sound more like zese; or a D sound - so this might sound more like
dis. If you do this, go to
21

- Are you using a blockedTH sound?

Some speakers put their tongue in the correct position for a TH sound but tend to press their
tongue too firmly and block the space between their teeth, which completely stops the air or sound
from coming out of their mouth. They then release their tongue suddenly, which makes a sound that
is similar to a T or D sound, making it sound more like a plosive instead of a fricative. Listen to the
following words, firstly spoken with a blocked TH sound and then with the fricative TH sound as
they should be in RP: thing, Thursday, mathematics, both, these, there, gather, with and loath.
If you do this, go to
22

- Are you making the voiced TH sound voiceless?

Some speakers make a voiced TH sound more like the voiceless TH sound, especially when it is at
the end of a word. Put your fingers on your larynx as you say the following words - which should all
be pronounced with a voiced TH sound - paying attention to the presence or absence of vibration:
breathe, bathe, with, gather, soothing, these, those. Now listen to the words, firstly spoken with
a voiceless TH sound and then with a voiced TH sound as they should in RP. If you do this, go to

- Are you making the voiceless TH sound voiced? 23

Some speakers make a voiceless TH sound more like the voiced TH sound. Put your fingers on your
larynx as you say the following words - which should all be pronounced with a voiceless TH sound -
paying attention to the presence or absence of vibration: breath, bath, nothing, everything, thistle,
thimble. Now listen to the words, firstly spoken with a voiced TH sound and then with a voiceless TH
sound as they should in RP. If you do this, go to 24

6
the TH consonant sound

DAY 4-6
STEP 3 - How to I change my HABIT?

Once youve identified your habit, find the same coloured fix it icon in the section on the next page
to break your habit. Read, listen and try out the exercises to encourage the new pronounciation.

- How do I avoid blocking or replacing the TH sound with other sounds?

If your habit is to replace the TH sound with another consonant or block the TH sound, the two
most important factors are: to encourage the tongue tip to gently touch just behind or just under the
top front teeth; and to make the sound long and friction-like in quality. By focusing on how to avoid
blocking the TH, those of you who replace it with other sounds will learn how to make the TH
sound and use it accurately.

One way to avoid blocking the space, through which you want this long friction-like sound to travel,
might be to encourage the tongue to be long and thin, ensuring that the blade and front of the tongue
are low. Another sound where the tongue is in a long and thin position is the L sound, as in lie. For
an L sound, the tongue tip is touching the alveolar ridge, it is long and thin, and the sound can travel
continuously for as long as you want it to, which are qualities that you can apply to the TH sound.
Play this game: make an L sound but this time with your tongue tip gently touching just behind or
just under your top front teeth instead of your alveolar ridge (this is just an exercise and not how you
should normally pronounce an L sound). Keep your tongue long and thin and ensure the blade and
front of the tongue are not touching any of the back of the top front teeth or hard palate. This is almost
exactly the position that your tongue should be in for a TH sound. Say lie with your tongue in this
strange position for the L sound and make the L really long. Now say thigh with your tongue in the
same place, and elongate the TH sound. The breath should be able to travel freely and continuously
out through your mouth and the blade and front of your tongue should be relaxed and not touching the
back of your top front teeth or hard palate.
25

Remember a TH sound is a fricative, so it should have a similar length and quality to a V as in vine and
an F sound as in fine. Play with the following words, using this adapted L sound to help guide you:
26
loathe lathe lithe Leith lath
27
- How do I make a voiced TH sound?

Firstly, its vital to be able to feel the difference between a voiced and voiceless TH sound. A good
way to start might be to compare the difference between other pairs of fricative sounds, like the
S and Z sounds, which most speakers do instinctively. Lengthen the S and Z sounds in the words
Sue and zoo with your fingers on your larynx (or gently plug your ears with your fingers) and pay
attention to the feeling of vibration on the z and the absence of vibration on the s. For the voiced
Z sound, you might experience a buzzing or tingling sensation not only behind your fingers but also
on the tongue tip or blade. This is the same experience that youre hoping for when saying a voiced
TH, as in this and bathe. Now compare the voiceless S sound with the voiceless TH sounds in thistle
and bath. Fricatives can be lengthened, which might be useful in order to really feel the difference
between voiced and voiceless.
28

7
the TH consonant sound

DAY 4-6
For those who struggle with making a voiced TH sound at the ends of words, it might be helpful to
play with words that can be extended with a vowel sound or a suffix, for instance bathe and bathing.
The presence of a vowel sound after a voiced TH sound tends to enable most speakers to pronounce
the TH sound with vibrations. Now lengthen the TH sound in bathing, stretching it out in order to
really feel the vibrations and then immediately repeat the word in the same way but end with the
lengthened voiced TH sound. Remember that the ability to lengthen is crucial in avoiding a blocked
TH sound. Play with these words: 29

soothing soothe loathing loath seething seethe writhing writhe


30
Another consideration might be that a voiced TH sound tends to make the preceding vowel sound
very slightly longer in some words, for example sheathe and sheath. This might be another way to
help you pronounce the difference between these two sounds.
31

- How do I make a voiceless TH sound?

A good way to start might be to whisper words with the voiceless TH sound. Whisper the word
thought and place your fingers on your larynx, paying attention to the lack of vibration and the light
and breathy quality. Whisper the th, retaining the light and breathy quality but then say the rest of
the word on full voice. Play the same game with the following word pairs, encouraging the th in the
second word of each pair to be voiceless:
32

wreath writhe bath bathe ether either breath breathe


33

8
the TH consonant sound

DAY 4-6
STEP 4 - Practice, practice, practice for 3 days, then look at DAY 7-9.

> Practice words and typical spellings for the voiced TH

TH the these this then those that they though there rather
another either weather mother father clothing although
Northern Southern together booth mouth v.
THE breathe scathe bathe teethe clothe seethe
34
> Practice words and typical spellings for the voiceless TH

TH think thought thank Thursday thing thousand third thirteen


three thirsty thorough thunder therapy toothbrush healthy truthful
something author method nothing everything youthful authority
birthday sympathetic pathway cloth beneath earth tenth mouth teeth
strength north locksmith south both aftermath growth
35
> Practice Sentences (voiceless TH is underlined and voiced TH is in bold)

Putting on her thimble, Beth threaded the needle.


Father Benjamin sat in the cathedral listening to the thunder.
Keith was a thickset man with thinning hair and crooked teeth.
Both Ruth and Garth sat beneath the shelter, their teeth chattering as the snow thawed.
36

9
the H consonant sound

DAY 7-9
STEP 1 - What do I know? Set Aside
20min
So, heres what you learnt from the DAY 3 of the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE:

Target Sound: the H consonant sound

Phonetic symbol: h

Pronunciation: The H sound is made with the vocal folds approximating (almost touching).
The tongue tip is behind the bottom front teeth and the middle of the tongue
is in the middle of the mouth. The jaw is loose and the teeth and the lips are
loosely apart.You cant see this sound being made but if you hold your hand
up in front of your mouth, as you make an H sound, you should be able to
feel a nearly silent warm breath on the palm of your hand. This sound is
voiceless.

37

STEP 2 - What is my HABIT?

Read, listen and try out the following habits and identify which one best describes or sounds like
what you do.

- Are you not pronouncing an H sound and/or adding it unnecessarily before some vowel sounds?

Some speakers do not make this sound at all: so howl sounds more like owl, his sounds more like
is, and hold sounds more like old. Speakers that do this may even add an H sounds unnecessarily,
especially before words that begin with vowel sounds: so and sounds more like hand and all
sounds more like hall. If you do this, go to
38
- Are you over-pronouncing the H sound?

This can be done in two ways: either by forcing too much breath out too suddenly, so that the H
sound is particularly throaty in quality, or by raising the back of your tongue, thereby reducing the
space in the back of your mouth to create an H that has a similar quality to a K sound or a Uvular
R. Listen to the following words, firstly spoken with too forceful a breath, then with the back of the
tongue raised, and finally with an H sound as they should be in RP: hi, how, him, his, her, here,
behind, hold, hand and headache. If you do this, go to
39

10
the H consonant sound

DAY 7-9
Some speakers make an H with the body of the tongue specifically when followed by a FLEECE, KIT
and DRESS vowel sound, as in heat, hit and help. Listen to these words, firstly spoken with the body
of the tongue raised, and then with an H sound as they should be in RP. If you do this, go to

- Are you confusing H and W sounds in words spelt wh? 40

There are many words spelt wh. Some are pronounced with a W sound, and others are pronounced
with an H sound, so some speakers confuse the two. The following words are pronounced with an
H sound: who, whose, whole, whom and whore whereas what, when, why, where and while
are pronounced with a W sound. Unfortunately, there is no reliable rule to help you know when
to use an H sound and when to use a W sound, however words can be checked for their phonetic
transcription in a reliable dictionary. If you do this, go to 41

STEP 3 - How to I change my HABIT?

Once youve identified your habit, find the same coloured fix it icon in the section on the next page
to break your habit. Read, listen and try out the exercises to encourage the new pronounciation.

The H sound is essentially a slightly audible whispered breath. A good way to start might be to
whisper the word arm. Before you get to the m notice the audible breathy quality of the ar, which
is in essence an H sound. Whisper the word again, allowing the beginning of the word to have this
whispered quality before the breath turns into sound, and you will have said harm. 42

If you tend to force too much breath out suddenly, keep your hand in front of your mouth and
encourage a gentle but constant flow of warm breath. If you tend to make an H with the back of your
tongue or middle of your tongue raised, look in a mirror, and encourage the tongue to stay low, in the
same sort of position as a yawn for the H sound, but then let it move accordingly for the following
vowel sound:

arm harm own hone add had am ham ill hill Ed head eat heat
43

STEP 4 - Practice, practice, practice for 3 days, then look at DAY 10-12.

> Practice words and typical spellings for the H sound

H have hand help high house hope home hurt heart handshake
hundred homework homemade hospital happy headache hearing holiday
history helicopter reheat behaviour rehearsal forehead inhalation
44
> Practice sentences

The hen hurried to the hen house to check on her eggs before they hatched. 45
Henry seems happy today! I hope he hasnt bought everyone homemade brownies again.
Her behaviour is abhorred I havent heard any positive feedback from her clients.
I hear that Harry Howard and Hazel are getting hitched! Harry and Hazel Howard! Hilarious!

11
the R consonant sound

DAY 10-12
STEP 1 - What do I know? Set Aside
20min
So, heres what you learnt from the DAY 4 of the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE:

Target Sound: the R consonant sound

Phonetic symbol: r

Pronunciation: The R sound is made with the tongue tip curling up towards the area just
behind the alveolar ridge but not touching and the body of the tongue
scooping in the middle. The jaw should remain relaxed, the teeth parted and
the lips in a very loose pouting shape. The R is a voiced sound

46


STEP 2 - What is my HABIT?

Read, listen and try out the following habits and identify which one best describes or sounds like
what you do.

There are many types of R sounds, made in very different ways. Some are more obviously different
to the R sound in RP, but others are much subtler to hear and feel. Here is a list of the most typical
R sounds:

- Are you using a Labiodental R sound?

A labiodental R (lip and teeth R) sound is made with the lower lip lightly
touching the upper teeth and the tongue tip down behind the bottom front
teeth. It looks very similar to a V sound, but it is not a fricative. Listen to the
following words, firstly spoken with a labiodental R, then with the R used in
RP: rip, ran, crash, grey, hurry and carry. If you do this, go to

47

12
the R consonant sound

DAY 10-12
- Are you using a Weak R sound?

A weak R sound is made in a similar way to a labiodental R, but the tongue tip
is very slightly curling up towards the alveolar ridge at the same time. Listen
to the following words, firstly spoken with a weak R, then with the R used
in RP: rip, ran, crash, grey, hurry and carry. If you do this,
go to

48

- Are you using a Retroflex R sound?

A retroflex R sound is made with the tongue tip curling further up and
back towards the centre of the roof of the mouth. Listen to the following
words, firstly spoken with a retroflex R, then with the R used in RP: rip,
ran, crash, grey, hurry and carry. If you do this, go to

49

- Are you using a Molar R sound?

A molar R is made with the whole tongue retracting back in the mouth,
bunching without the tongue tip curling upward. The upper back edges of
the tongue are touching the inner edges of the upper back molars. Listen to
the following words, firstly spoken with a molar R, then with the R used in
RP: rip, ran, crash, grey, hurry and carry. If you do this, go to

50

- Are you using a Uvular Fricative R sound?

A uvular fricative R sound is made with the back of the tongue rising up
towards the uvular in the same way as a K sound but instead of touching
it, it creates a narrow space causing a friction-like sound when vibrations
pass up and out. Listen to the following words, firstly spoken with a uvular
fricative R, then with the R used in RP: rip, ran, crash, grey, hurry and
carry. If you do this, go to

51

13
the R consonant sound

DAY 10-12
- Are you using Tapped and Trilled R sounds?

The retroflex R and the R used in RP can be tapped. They can also be trilled as can the uvular R. For a
tapped R, instead of the tongue holding its position and the sound travelling through the space around
and over it, the tongue very quickly touches then releases from the closest point of articulation
depending on which R you make. For a trilled R the tongue touches and releases many times in rapid
succession. Listen to the following words, firstly spoken with a tapped and trilled retroflex R, then with
a trilled uvular R, then a tapped and trilled R used in RP, and then the R used in RP: crash, grey, hurry
and carry. If you do this, go to 52

- Are you replacing an R sound with an L sound?

Some speakers replace an R sound with an L sound. An L sound is made with the tongue in a very
similar shape to the R sound used in RP, except that the tongue tip actually touches the alveolar ridge
for an L sound, so rag might sound more like lag and wrong sound more like long. If you do this,
go to 53

STEP 3 - How to I change my HABIT?

Once youve identified your habit, find the same coloured fix it icon in the section on the next page
to break your habit. Read, listen and try out the exercises to encourage the new pronounciation.

- How do I change to the R sound used in RP?

Whilst there are some big differences in the type of R that you might be using habitual, changing your
habitual R to the R sound used in RP is all about creating a curving, scooping shape with your tongue
body and with the tongue tip pointing up towards the area just behind your alveolar ridge without them
touching. So use the following exercise to help create this curving, scooping shape. An L sound as
in words like light, lee and lane is made in a very similar way to this R sound, the only difference
being that for an L sound the tongue tip touches the area just in front of the alveolar ridge. Sustain
the L sound and pay attention to the feeling of its shape inside your mouth. Its okay if your tongue
tip doesnt normally touch the alveolar ridge for your habitual L sound, but for the purpose of this
exercise, put the tongue tip on the alveolar ridge and compare the following pictures:

L sound R sound

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14
the R consonant sound

DAY 10-12
Say the word Lorraine. Once your tongue tip releases after the L sound encourage the body of
your tongue to remain in the same shape and position as for the L sound but without the tongue
tip touching the alveolar ridge. Play the same game with Loretta, larynx, lorry and Larry. Other
consonants that have a similar shape and position are T, D and N. Play with terrain, derive and
narrate. Another way to use this exercise is to play with word combinations, where the first word
ends with an l and the second word starts with an r, for example pale red, feel ridiculous, call
Robin, tall rock and sell rockets.
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- How do I change a weak or labiodental R?

Changing a weak R or labiodental R (lip and teeth R) sound is about discouraging your lower lip from
touching your upper teeth and encouraging your tongue tip to curve up. Firstly, hold a finger vertically
over your lips, as if you were asking someone to be quiet.Then roll your lower lip down by sliding your
finger down towards your chin. Keep your lower lip held down, so that your lower front teeth are very
slightly exposed, then say the following words:

ran run write rod rang ring rack rock rag rouge
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Now, take your finger away from your lower lip but keep your lower lip in a subtler version of that
same position with the muscles of your lips. It might feel like a subtle pout ensure that the lower lip
is down, exposing the bottom teeth. Look in a mirror and your lower front teeth should be very slightly
exposed. Repeat the words above, encouraging your tongue tip to curve up and backwards towards
the area just behind the alveolar ridge and your lips in a very subtle pout. Its vital that as soon as you
have said the R sound you release your lips into their resting position.

Building this new habit may some take time and regular practice. The words above are useful in as
much as there are no other consonant sounds that use the lips. Once you are confident with these,
play with other words where the R sound is in between two vowel sounds, or words that have a
consonant before an R sound, for example:

hurry marry carry curry credit crisis cream grape groan


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Many British speakers use a weak R sound, and it is actually becoming much more widely accepted in
English pronunciation. However, if you still wish to change towards the R used for RP, a weak R can be
a particularly stubborn habit to break, so whilst the suggestions above for how to change your habit
are hopefully useful and effective, they may not offer you the specific guidance that you might need,
in which case you might benefit from some one-to-one coaching. But as I said, it is a small part of a
big picture, and should only receive the attention that you choose to place on it.

> Anything else?

- Should I pronounce every written R?

Not every written r is spoken. This is explained fully in the complete eBook - British English
Pronunciation Roadmap: A Clear Path To Clear Speech.

15
the R consonant sound

DAY 10-12
STEP 4 - Practice, practice, practice for 3 days, then look at DAY 13-15.

> Practice words and typical spellings for the R sound

R original rang ring pride broken crash RR marry worried


surround carry WR wrong write wrap wreathe RH rhubarb
rhythm diarrhoea rhetoric rhapsody rheumatic
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> Practice Sentences for the R sound

The road we live on is right next to Reading train station.


Thankfully Chris is through the really problematic phase of his treatment.
Ralph is always running late. His unpredictability is infuriating.
Ive been brought the wrong files. Who is responsible?
Would you carry that furry grey cat and put him outside the orange basket.

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16
the Z consonant sound

DAY 13-15
STEP 1 - What do I know? Set Aside
20min
So, heres what you learnt from the DAY 5 of the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE

Target Sound: the Z consonant sound

Phonetic symbol: z

Pronunciation: This sound belongs to a pair of sounds - Z and S. The only difference
between the S and Z sounds is that the S is a voiceless sound and the Z is
a voiced sound. One of the most typical ways to make the S and Z
sounds is by creating a narrow space between the tongue blade and the
alveolar ridge. This space is almost like a v-shaped furrow running from the
middle to the tip of the tongue. The tongue blade doesnt touch the alveolar
ridge the breath or vibration simply travels over it. With both sounds, the
jaw is loose and the teeth and the lips are loosely apart. For some, the tongue
tip is hovering close to but not touching the alveolar ridge, and for others it is
behind the bottom teeth.
60

STEP 2 - What is my HABIT?

Read, listen and try out the following habits and identify which one best describes or sounds like
what you do.

- Do you have a lisp?

Aside from any accent differences, some speakers find the S sound in particular difficult to make
because of a lisp, which also tends to affect the CH sound, as in cheese, DG sound, as in journey,
SH sound, as in shoe and ZH sound, as in pleasure. If you have a lisp, this section may well help you
to understand and possibly even make progress with your S and Z sounds, but it cannot offer you
the specific guidance that you might want, in which case you might benefit from some one-to-one
coaching.

- Are you making the Z sound more like the S sound?

Quite simply, you might be making the voiced Z sound, especially at the ends of words, more like an
voiceless S sound, so words like buzz sound more like bus. Put your fingers on your larynx as you
say these words, paying attention to the presence or absence of vibration. If you do this, go to

- Are you making the S sound more like the Z sound? 61

You might be pronouncing words that should be said with a voiceless S sound more like a voiced Z
sound, so words like sue sound more like zoo, and sip sounds more like zip. Put your fingers on
your larynx as you say these words, paying attention to the presence or absence of vibration. If you
do this, go to
62

17
the Z consonant sound

DAY 13-15
- Are you replacing an S sound with a SH sound?

Some speakers replace the S with a SH sound in STR consonant clusters, as in:

strain strip straight stripe strove stream astronomy strive stroll


63
And some speakers confuse words like sell and shell, sock and shock, sake and shake. If you do
any of these things, go to
64
- Are you unnecessarily adding a vowel before an S sound?

Some speakers add a vowel sound, typically the DRESS vowel sound before a consonant cluster at
the beginning of the word that starts with s. For example ehspecial, ehstranger, ehscratch
ehspray. If you do this, go to
65

STEP 3 - How to I change my HABIT?

Once youve identified your habit, find the same coloured fix it icon in the section on the next page
to break your habit. Read, listen and try out the exercises to encourage the new pronounciation.

- How do I make a voiced Z sound?

For those who struggle with making a voiced Z sound at the ends of words, it might be helpful to play
with words that can be extended with a vowel sound or a suffix, for example buzz and buzzing.The
presence of a vowel sound after a voiced Z sound tends to enable most speakers to pronounce the Z
sound with vibrations. Now lengthen the Z sound in buzzing, stretching it out in order to really feel
the vibrations and then immediately repeat the word in the same way but end with the lengthened
voiced Z sound. Hopefully you will have said buzz with a voiced Z sound. Play with these words:
66
laser laze pleasing please frozen froze easy ease
67
Another consideration might be that a voiced Z sound tends to make some preceding vowel sounds
very slightly longer in some words. Listen to this in the following pairs of words:

Lace laze base baize face faze race raise ice eyes lice lies
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This might be another way to help you pronounce the difference between these two sounds.

18
the Z consonant sound

DAY 13-15
- How do I make a voiceless S sound?

A good way to start might be to whisper words with the voiceless S sound.Whisper the word so and
place your fingers on your larynx, paying attention to the lack of vibration and the light and breathy
quality.Very slowly, whisper the s, retaining the light and breathy quality but then say the rest of the
word on full voice. You might also notice that the vowel sound before a voiceless S sound is slightly
short than when followed by a voiced Z sound. Play the same game with the following word pairs,
encouraging the s in the first word of each pair to be voiceless:

peace peas bus buzz lacy lazy lice lies niece knees
69
- How do I avoid replacing an S sound with an SH sound?

A good way to start might be to say the st in the first line of words below without the yoo sound
and in the second line of words without an R sound. Most speakers find that the s is then easier to
pronounce as an S sound instead of a SH. For example, say steam then stream, paying attention to
the quality of the S sound. When reintroducing the yoo sound or R after the st, make the S sound
longer than you might usually to ensure accurate pronunciation:
70

stew stupid studious stupor astute stupendous studio costume


strain strip straight stripe strove stream astronomy strive stroll
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- How do I avoid adding a vowel before an S sound?

Most speakers that add a vowel sound only tend to do so when the s is in a consonant cluster at
the beginning of a word. Play with saying an S sound on itself own, and then elongating it into a word
that you struggle with. For example sssscratch. Play the same game with the following words:

sssscratch scrape scream stretch stream strap sprain sprite


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LOOK - Extra Useful Info!

> How should I pronounce the s in suffixes s, es and ies?

The s in es, ise ies suffixes are almost always pronounced with a Z sound (note that the ise suffix
is often written ize in American English):

dishes boxes matches crosses buses wishes abolishes squashes


democracies zombies diaries redundancies societies obscenities
socialise prioritise glamorise penalise ostracise capitalise galvanise
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Whilst there is no reliable rule about when to pronounce the suffix s as an S sound or Z sound, it
is sometimes true that if the sound before the s is a voiced consonant sound (like B, D, G,V, Z, voiced
TH, ZH, DG, M, N, NG, L) it will mostly be pronounced as the voiced Z sound:
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mens womens girls feeds owns begs emails letters meetings

19
the Z consonant sound

DAY 13-15
If the sound before the s is a voiceless consonant sound, it will mostly be pronounced as the voiceless
S sound:

shorts clocks hits shuts packs hooks flicks meets eats its
75
Whilst there is no conclusive pattern to follow, one way to be sure is to look at the phonetic
transcription in a reliable dictionary.

It may also be helpful to know that there are words like abuse/abuse, and lose/loose where the s
is voiceless for the noun/adjective but voiced for the verb.There are some exceptions, however, where
the sound is voiced for both noun and verb, such as fuse and bruise.There are also many words that
depend on the voiced and voiceless distinction for accuracy of meaning, for instance lice and lies,
lace and lays, peace and peas, mace and maze and rice and rise.
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STEP 4 - Practice, practice, practice for 3 days, then youve completed the course!

> Practice words and typical spellings for the S sound

S sister sell salmon sat sit sun Saturday seen south sock
C central circle cycle receive decide fancy cereal specific cell
CE juice pronounce pace Greece ice prance pence SS cross
massive fitness assignment necessity SC scent muscle fascinating
SE goose house purpose grease X (KS) experience excite expert
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> Practice words and typical spellings for the Z sound

Z zone size crazy zoo zip horizon ZE amaze prize sneeze


ZZ jazz fizzy puzzle SE organise cheese please whose because
close those supervise S has his was presume music reason
season president SS dessert scissors X (GZ) exert exalt exude
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> Practice sentences (voiceless S is underlined and voiced Z is in bold)

Simon, Sarah and Susan are ecstatic about starting summer school.
This scooter is the fastest Ive ever seen or experienced.
Most citizens settle in one district for some time.
Im amazed at your brazen attitude towards the disorganisation of this present situation.
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20
BONUS
Hurray, youve done it - WELL DONE!

Now, how do I integrate these new habits


into live speech?

First and foremost, do what you did when you acquired your first language - practice building these
sounds and words into your muscle memory until they become habitual. Which means, quite simply
- listen, repeat, listen, repeat, listen and repeat.

In addition to this, you can then start to create what I call word banks.These are banks of words based
on their pronunciation NOT their spelling or meaning. And more importantly, choose words that
you use every single day. And you dont need to start with many - maybe just 5 or 10.You can check
the pronunciation with something like the online Oxford Dictionary (which has audio of thousands
of words) and get practicing these core words and using them with their new pronunciation in live
speech. And its a bit like dominoes - once you change one word, others WILL start to follow.

What follows is 2 exercises for each of the 5 consonant sounds, which ask you to list 12 frequently
used words containing each consonant sound, and then 6 phrases in which you might use those
words (you could even cheat by stealing some words from the step 4 practice sections at the end
of each of the workdays). Have a go.

Word Banks
> the NG consonant sound (DAY 1 - 3)

- Ex. 1 - My Word Bank

What are your 12 most frequently used words containing the NG consonant sound?

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12

- Ex. 2 - My Phrase Bank

What are your 6 most frequently used phrases containing the NG consonant sound?

1 .. 2 ..
3 .. 4 ..
5 .. 6 ..

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BONUS
> the TH consonant sound (DAY 4 - 6)

- Ex. 1 - My Word Bank

What are your 12 most frequently used words containing the TH consonant sound?

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12

- Ex. 2 - My Phrase Bank

What are your 6 most frequently used phrases containing the TH consonant sound?

1 .. 2 ..
3 .. 4 ..
5 .. 6 ..

> the H consonant sound (DAY 7 - 9)

- Ex. 1 - My Word Bank

What are your 12 most frequently used words containing the H consonant sound?

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12

- Ex. 2 - My Phrase Bank

What are your 6 most frequently used phrases containing the H consonant sound?

1 .. 2 ..
3 .. 4 ..
5 .. 6 ..

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BONUS
> the R consonant sound (DAY 10 - 12)

- Ex. 1 - My Word Bank

What are your 12 most frequently used words containing the R consonant sound?

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12

- Ex. 2 - My Phrase Bank

What are your 6 most frequently used phrases containing the R consonant sound?

1 .. 2 ..
3 .. 4 ..
5 .. 6 ..

> the Z consonant sound (DAY 13 - 15)

- Ex. 1 - My Word Bank

What are your 12 most frequently used words containing the Z consonant sound?

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12

- Ex. 2 - My Phrase Bank

What are your 6 most frequently used phrases containing the Z consonant sound?

1 .. 2 ..
3 .. 4 ..
5 .. 6 ..

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So, Whats The Next Step...
You took up the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE challenge and got top marks, and now youve completed
the 2 Week Habit Breaker Action Plan. So now you have all the tools and resources for these 5
consonant sounds to start making a real difference in the way you communicate yourself and the way
others engage with you. So, whats next...

Be patient...

I know I said this at the end of the 5 Day Audio MINI COURSE, but Ill take care of the rest. And I was
right, the first time, wasnt I? Because here you are 2 weeks later much more informed and in control
of your pronunciation - so trust me on this. I really want you to succeed.

Ill let you know shortly what the next best step is to get you accelerating in your vocal transformation
- I promise.

Ill speak to you soon

Ashley

P.S. Keep checking your email.

P.P.S If you really cant wait and want a sneak preview, click on this link- its nickname is the ULTIMATE
Habit Breaker:

www.englishpronunciationroadmap.com/ultimate-habit-breaker

P.P.P.S Oh, and before I forget:

... Join The Facebook Community - Private Group

Remember, youre not on your own. You now have access to the English Prounciation Roadmap
Community via a private Facebook group, where you can ask me questions directly, speak to others
who are on the same journey and get helpful tips and advice. Im looking forward to helping you.

Send a request to join the group (URL below) and so long as your customer details match, youll be
accepted:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Join.EPR.Community/

If your Facebook name is different to the name we have for you, just let us know.

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