THe WraTH of TH
One of the hardest sounds for non-native speakers of English to make is “th”. It’s a sound that doesn’t exist in most languages, so new English learners have never said it! Pronouncing “th” as “f,” “s,” or “z” is a common mistake, and believe me, native speakers notice when someone can’t say it. It’s like when a foreigner in the Czech Republic can’t say “ř”!
Here are some tricks to help you say this letter correctly:
1. Put the tip of your tongue between your teeth, so your teeth are touching it on the top and the bottom. (Don’t bite it too hard!) When you make the sound, your tongue doesn’t move from this spot! Only open your teeth just a tiny bit so that the air can go out above your tongue. To start, try hissing like a snake with a speech impediment (= vada řeči) – tttthhhhhhhh!!!!!
2. If you still have trouble keeping your tongue where it should be, try putting one finger in front of your lips, like you’re telling someone “shhh!” This time, stick your tongue all the way out so it touches your finger – and keep it there! Remember, the air always comes out on the top of your tongue, never underneath it. After you’ve tried hissing for a while, tell yourself, think, think, think. You can say this word without ever moving your tongue from that spot.
3. Still can’t keep your tongue in its spot? Time for something extreme: use your fingers to hold on to the tip of your tongue, so it can’t go back in your mouth. Then you can be proud you did it even though, though, though it was difficult!
4. Remember, it is perfectly normal for this to be difficult. Learning to make a new sound is a skill, just like learning to read, paint, or ride a bike. It takes time to master it... and a lot of practice!