Pronunciation help

Vocabulary Tutorial

Pronunciation help


Many students have trouble pronouncing English sounds. I like to exaggerate mouth movements and give them funny names to help students to remember and understand how to pronounce the sounds.

Sample Problem

Many Spanish speakers have trouble correctly pronouncing the “b” and “v” sounds. Several Asian languages (Chinese, Korean, Hindi) confuse the “w” and “v” sounds.


To help students with the “b” sound, I go through a pantomime using my finger to put on my lipstick. First on the top lip, then the bottom. Then I grab a tissue to blot the lipstick. The position of the lips when blotting the lipstick is the correct mouth position to pronounce “b”. Make sure that the lips cover both the upper and lower teeth.

To help students with the “v” sound, I describe an angry rabbit. (Inspiration for this came from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. I bend my index and middle fingers and stick my top front teeth out so that they cover my bottom lip. I think that the fingers help convey the “great gnashing teeth” of the vicious rabbit. The top teeth should be visible and be covering most of the bottom lip. Then, vibrate the lower lip to make the humming sound associated with the letter “v”. (Using just air over the bottom lip makes the “f” sound”.

To help students with the “w” sound, I ask for a kiss or a whistle. Purse the lips as though about to give a gentle kiss to an elderly relative. Then, keeping the lips pursed, vibrate the vocal cords to produce the “w” sound. I call this “kiss the w’s”.

About The Author

English, ESOL, Reading And Writing For Adult Learn
After 35 years as a paralegal for the federal government, I retired and took on a second career and discovered a new passion teaching English to adults. I appreciate that the students want to learn and I believe that the lessons should be fun and informative, not endless repetition of grammar rules ...
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