Sunday, June 1, 2014

Toughness of Mouth's Usages and Phonetic Symbols;

Sorry for the unmatched header, I've changed it for the newer post.

(posted; Etymology page)
This post is about how hard to pronounce English for Japanese, whereas my "Hepburn system writing" post was about the hardness of writing;  (sorry for the long writing today)
      Linking this post to Our World Tuesday;

The other day, my husband abruptly asked me what "Fast Food" means. He just knew the sound of the word, not spelling. I instantly understood his confusion, " fast/first".  
Japanese doesn't require us to use the tongue and lips much as it's a rather monotonous language compared to English. There are many Toughness of lips and Tongue Usages for us when we speak English. Let me introduce the major FOUR hard ones for us.
                                                     (These four are totally from my experience; no reference from pc. p;)

*Number 1*
We don't have sound which requires us to roll up our tongue into our mouth, so "R" sound is really tough for us.  light/right  fast/first  heart/hurt   These several two words will be pronounced the same as we are not used to say the sound of underlined part. 

*Number 2*
Almost all the students hesitate to imitate me pronouncing "th" sounds. My explaining them to put their tongue toward upper teeth and no need to stick out almost never work. So these several words on the left side will be sounded  like on the right side.    thinks(h)ink  three→su-ree  thank→sunk  this→di-su

*Number 3*
"f" and"v"  sound which requires us to put our upper teeth lightly on our lower lip will not be pronounced correctly.  So berry/very will be pronounced the same way here again.  The first 'F' sound of these words five, free, will be said putting the lips forward like the underlined part of  'what' sound. When I teach alphabet, "v" students pronounce it like "bu-i", like the word "buoy"

*Number 4*
It seems that we are not used to put our mouth side-way. These left side words sounds like right side word.  sea→she  sick→chic 

*Phonetic Symbols*
Pronunciation is always the hardest part when teach. In reality we don't teach Phonetic Symbols much. But if students can't read these symbols, they can't read new words in the textbook. (especially, high-school students have trouble) 

This one is from high-school English textbook.  At the bottom of the book, there are lists of new words and they need to read the symbols to know the sounds of them. I can easily guess you won't need these unless you are language specialist p;)  
Thank you so much for reading my rambling about the toughness Japanese students have to face when learning English. I must add that after several years of teaching, I thought that each language has its characteristics and  I shouldn't expect much(*^_^*)

Thank you very much for stopping by;
  I hope you all will have a wonderful new week. 



  1. This is amazing, Miyako, thank you so much for sharing this! I speak both French and English, but my mother tongue is English, so I can relate to some of the sounds being different! You explained this so well!

  2. Ótimo compartilhamento! Realmente é difícil! beijos,lindo domingo! chica

  3. More than interesting... and so glad to read about such interesting article - just to say so and so educative in a special way I presume! Learning languages, foreign ones, is the better way to be connected with the world! No one says that there is a easy way for it - to achieve something - to improve itself in art of communication! The only way for me to really learn english and that's what I thought at one moment, it was to put my thoughts on page, blogging... And I think I was right... looking back I see only the benefits and I'll still continue with my study in my own rythm, helped by computer and first of all with the aid that I found it in books and dictionaries and almost in trying to read daily: lots and lots of posts and articles of others from all parts of the world sharing their joys or sorrows, or feelings, thoughts or blessings! I'm positive that in one day I'll know that I've learned the better way to improve myself in studying foreign languages like french or english. And if the spelling or the way I pronounced a word is not correct... then I'll have to find somebody to show me or I'll laugh.... till will work to process of learning!! ;) LOL... positivity... that's all! Thanks so much for today's post that you shared... Toate cele bune & greetings from Romania! I mean... All the best in your activity and daily routine! Alexa T

  4. Oh Miyako san. I feel the pain! I struggle with pronouncing and accent when speaking English. My husband is used to my Japanese-English. When he, his cousin, and I were at a restaurant, my husband often had to "translate" my Japanese-English into English for his cousin to understand!
    Learning proper pronunciation is hard, teaching it must be even more difficult. But learning different language sure is fun :-)

    Have a wonderful new week, Miyako san!

  5. Miyako, thank you for sharing. I had no idea that learning our English language could be so difficult for other foreign students. I always thought teaching phonics would be easy method. You are a great teacher which takes a lot of patience. Great post, have a happy week ahead!

  6. Fascinating! I am sure there are many sounds in Japanese that English-speaking people have difficulty learning too.

  7. i like when you pick up new words from my posts and point them out to me. i tend to take our language and slang for granted and you make me stop and realize how difficult it might be for international readers. i learn a lot from you because you share your perspective with us. :)

  8. Dearest Miyako,
    It is very hard to learn English as the sound is always different with the many exeptions.
    For Dutch children, with the Dutch language and phonetic pronunciation, the letter 'R' is the last letter for children. So that indicates it is a difficult one! This is very much true for all Chinese people as they confuse the l with the r.
    Roman languages and also Dutch and German are totally phonetic so that is a lot easier. But the English 'TH' and its different ways for either and neither is very confusing.
    Believe me, even for us, having studied Oxford English it is still different from American English. But by careful listening and practice, this can be done!
    Interesting subject.
    Hugs to you,

  9. Dear Miyako... Thank you for taking the time to explain this. I didn't know why some words were hard to pronounce in English and I am sad that I didn't take more time in school learning another language. I studied French for my Grandmother, but only for 2 years.... Michelle

  10. Hello Miyako, your explanation is very easy to understand and I hope your students know how lucky they are to have you as their Teacher.
    I have a new appreciation of the range of physical movements of the tongue and lips required to make the sounds of some of the English words.

    Off subject, I do love your headers. I can see the thoughts you put into them each time you post.

    Enjoy your week and with kind regards :D)

  11. This explains so much that I have never quite understood before Miyako.

    Bill walked by while I was reading your post and asked me what in the world I was doing. I was trying to put my tongue and mouth in various positions to know what those sounds feel like. (One never thinks about where your tongue or mouth is while you're talking...and that alone makes me think about how very difficult it has to be for you and your students. Thank you for helping me understand and learn.

    PS: Tell your husband that it is just as well not to know what 'fast food' is. It is a horrible way to eat and has contributed to the poor health and overweight that is an epidemic here in the USA).

  12. Hi Miyako san!
    I was very hard to understand Japan & English language with pronviation I must very hard with me that is very confusing in y hart for so much realige in my hart perapcitive with me Japanese lanuage has it's characteristics.
    Atamaga ga okashiku narimashita.
    I hope you having a very good heart!
    Otosan to tanoshiku nice day!
    We having a too much raining for every days...

  13. Very interesting post! You are a wonderful teacher, but I think I'm way too old to learn what looks like a complicated language to me. Enjoy your week.

  14. I learned so much from reading your post, my dear friend! I think the acquisition of language is absolutely fascinating, and this gave me such a good understanding of what Japanese students have to go through to learn English. Wow!

  15. Thank you for this!! I never knew why R's were so hard to pronounce for those not from the U.S. Your explanation was very eye-opening and fascinating. You are a gem Miyako and I'm so glad we met through blogging.

  16. Throughout my years of teaching, I taught many Japanese exchange students, most of them 13 to 14, so I understand the difficulties they face in learning English. You have explained it very well.

  17. oh it's tough learning a new language to begin with :) thanks for explaining further.

  18. Fascinating post!! Boom, Bobbi and Gary.

  19. so often I comment with my Mumm (89) how difficult it must be to learn English as a second language. So many words spelt the same but said differently! i.e. sew, so, sow.

  20. Hi Miyako, I found this post so interesting and informative. It explains so much, and gives me greater understanding. Thank you.

    love from,

  21. As we regularly have Japanese students to stay, your post is fascinating and helps me understand so much. I have bookmarked to show my students!
    Wren x