Pronunciation Clinic for Portuguese Speakers
Getting English pronunciation right is not easy to do. What makes it more challenging for English students is that your first language influences how you pronounce English words. If you are a speaker of Portuguese, these are probably some of the pronunciation challenges you may be facing. No need to get frustrated. Just gain awareness and take it from there.
icon-flash CHALLENGE 1: /tʃ/ & /ʃ/
So, is it chicken, children or kitchen?
You probably mixed these three up at some point. It’s all about the /tʃ/ sound. It has the same sound as when you sneeze: AAACHOO! not when you tell some to shhhhh! /ʃ/ – keep quiet.
Practice these minimal pairs. Listen and repeat:
icon-flash CHALLENGE 2: /θ/ & /ð/
The ex-president of Brazil, Lula, had a lisp and used to say “BraTHileiros“.
Go to the mirror and say “BraTHileiros” but stop at TH. Look at your mouth. Where is your tongue? Yes, between your teeth. If your tongue is not between your teeth the sound is incorrect. This is the only way to pronounce this sound.
However, there are two TH sounds: /θ/ and /ð/
/θ/ is unvoiced, which means only air must come out of your mouth no sound like in the words:
/ð/ is voiced, which means you must push out air and sound from your mouth. Put your fingers on your voice box
(larynx) and say the sound. You should feel a vibration. Say these words:
After you have made this sound, you must quickly retract ( pull in ) your tongue to continue the rest of the sounds.
CHALLENGE 3: “Nicoletta, do you want to eatee with us?”
You may not realise it, but you put an extra “e” at the end of words – especially the ones that end with “e“. Like makEEE, somEEE and havEEE. Sometimes this also happens with consonants too like, bigEE, girlEE.
We never pronounce the final “e” in English, so keep that in mind. The last sound should be the last consonant sound. This happens because many words in Portuguese end in a vowel.
This challenge causes you to confuse words like fun and funny. The party was funny (instead of fun).
CHALLENGE 4: “I like hap music”
You could be mistaken for having expressed that you like happy music, when you actually meant rap music. This happened because the Portuguese “R” sounds the same as the English “H”. Yes, very inconvenient indeed!
- “H” in English is a soft, unvoiced, breathy sound. Your mouth slightly open and face relaxed.
- The “R” is English is a distinct voice sound that requires stiff, oval lips and the tip of the tongue pointing up towards the palate.
Let’s practice saying a few words that are traditionally difficult for Portuguese speakers.
Listen and repeat:
This brings me to the end of this Pronunciation Clinic – no medication required, just a good dose of awareness and practice.