June 24, 2016 Nicoletta

Pronunciation Clinic 2

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Academic Director at English One
Nicoletta is the co-founder of English One. She holds a Dip. TESOL (licentiate) from Trinity College, London. She is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer with well over a decade of EFL experience.

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Pronunciation Clinic for Arabic Speakers

Getting English pronunciation right is always a challenge for people learning the language. We have seen how certain first languages can influence a student’s attempts at improving their pronunciation. If you speak Arabic you are going to find certain sounds in English difficult to reproduce. But with some guidance and a bit of practice you will soon start sounding much better!

(Before we get started, you may find this phonemic chart to be useful)

 icon-flash CHALLENGE 1: Vowel Sounds

English has many more vowel sounds than Arabic, so for beginners it is usually difficult to hear differences such as ship/sheep or bad/bed and it can be challenging for Arabic speakers to say these vowel sounds correctly.

Practice it:
Look at the picture of what your mouth must look like. Prepare your mouth and then say the sound.

The %2Fɪ%2F & %2Fe%2Fsound


/ɪ/ – hit, bit, fit, lit



/e/ – head, led, egg, get



Now listen to the examples of /ɪ/:

And listen to the examples of /e/:

  CHALLENGE 2: Consonant Sounds

You may notice that sometimes th sounds like this and thin are pronounced /tis/ or /din/ by Arabic speakers

Practice it:
For both sounds your tongue must be lightly between your teeth. If your tongue is in your mouth you will not make the correct sound.
Θ and ð

Θ and ð

  • For /Θ/ you must only push air out of your mouth – no sound. Put your fingers on your throat when you do this. There must be no vibration.

Listen to /Θ/:

  • For /ð/ you must add sound to the air you push out, so if you put your fingers on your throat you will feel vibration. It sounds like a mobile phone vibrating on a table!

Listen to /ð/:

Practice with these examples:

/Θ/tooth, think, birthday

/ð/mother, there, the, together

 CHALLENGE 3: Swapping of /p/ and /b/

Often, the sounds of /p/ and /b/ get swapped at the beginning of words, for example:

pen and bagpronounced ben and pag by Arabic speakers.

Practice it:
For both sounds your mouth starts closed and you push out air forcefully, like a mini explosion of air.

p and b

  • For /p/ – no sound, just air.

Listen to /p/:

  • For /b/ you must add sound (put your fingers on your throat again to feel the vibration).

Listen to /b/:

Practice with these examples:

/p/ – pick, play, please, pill

/b/ – because, buy, about, been

  CHALLENGE 4: Substitution of /f/ for /v/

Another error that is made is vase and very being pronounced fase and fery by Arabic speakers.

Practice it:
With these 2 sounds, your mouth and teeth play an important role. Use a mirror if you need to check.

f and v

  • For /f/, your lips must be slightly apart and your top teeth must rest softly on your bottom lip. Push only air out.

Listen to /f/:

  • For /v/, your lips must be slightly apart but your bottom lip needs to be curled in a little. Now press your top teeth gently into your bottom lip and push air and sound out. Put your fingers on your throat and feel the vibration.

Listen to /v/:

Practice with these examples:

/f/– flower, far, fork, fall

/v/– vest, vain, volleyball, vile

  CHALLENGE 5: Word stress

In Arabic, word stress is regular. So it is quite normal to confuse the different stress patterns in English. It is common for Arabic speakers to pronounce all words with the stress on the first syllable.

Eg: TOmorrow instead of tomorrow.

It’s important to know that sometimes in English different word stress = different meaning!

Listen and practice these examples:

PREsent (noun)

RECord (noun)

REfuse (noun)

preSENT (verb)

recORD (verb)

reFUSE (verb)

Extra Practice

Here are some links to websites you can use to get extra practice on your pronunciation:

  • FREE Arabic speakers’ pronunciation training course. Just 20 minutes day!


  • Here is an excellent link to practice word stress:


  • A 1 hour FREE lesson by an American teacher (try it!):


We can do so much more than just help you with your pronunciation. Contact us to find out how else we can help you improve your pronunciation, your accent or any other English skills. By joining one of our specialized English courses you can develop your English skills quickly. And if you don’t feel like travelling you can have private online lessons. We are here to answer your questions!
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About the Author

Nicoletta Nicoletta is the co-founder of English One. She holds a Dip. TESOL (licentiate) from Trinity College, London. She is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer with well over a decade of EFL experience.