How do I overcome prenunciation problems?

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When learning German, English learners can find it rather difficult to adapt to the accent and pronunciation of particular words and sounds. 

Typical mistakes

- 'v' sound (supposed to be pronounced as 'f')

- 'w' sound (supposed to be pronounced as 'v')

- 'r' the German 'r' is particularly difficult as this sound doesn't exist in the English language. 

- 'z' (supposed to be pronounced as 'ts')

- 'j' (supposed to be pronounced as 'y')

- 'g' (at end of syllable should be pronounced as 'k')

- 'd' (at end of syllable should be pronounced as 't')

- 'ich laut' e.g. ich will (this sound is quite difficult but my teacher always made me make the noise of a baby cat! try it!)

- 'ach laut' e.g. die Nacht (this sound is often confused with 'ich laut' and it is vital that we see the difference. This is a much harsher sound more like the 'k' sound but not as clear. It is made with the back of the throat.

You also need to pay special attention to the letters the German alphabet has that we don't. 

ä ö ü ß

These are pronounced as follows;

- ae

- oe

- ue

- ss

However in all languages there are exceptions e.g. Vase is pronounced with a 'v' sound not 'f'. Unfortunately this is something that does happen and as language learners we just have to grin and bear it and learn them... off by heart!

Tips to overcome these issues

+ make a long list of English/German words that contain all of these letters and just read through making all the words a German pronunciation, it proves a good exercise to get your mind thinking in the German way!

+ try gargling with water for the German 'r', the better you get, take away the water and after some hard work you should have a pretty good German 'r'.

+ keep reading German texts aloud, evem if you don't understand a word. It is better to be not understood with your vocab or grammar then your pronunciation. All are important but start with HOW you say things.

+ listen to recordings of how to pronounce words, letters and sounds!

Pronunciation is key in all language learning, it should be the very first thing you learn!

Paige R. A Level German tutor, A Level Spanish tutor, Mentoring Engli...

About the author

is an online A Level German tutor with MyTutor studying at Manchester University

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