Sunday, January 17, 2010

Accent Reduction Tips for Russian speakers


In my accent reduction tutoring lessons, I aim to cover the main areas of difficulty that the person may have.

A native speaker of Russian will generally need to focus upon intonation so that the voice has the rise and fall of standard English. Often referred to as the music of English, Russian speakers benefit from adding more rising sounds to the voice. Russian speakers already have plenty of falling intonation sounds so pay more attention to the peaks in your voice. In an earlier blog I wrote about some of the things you can to improve the overall sound and clarity of your voice. Please click here for further details.

There are certain sounds that are difficult for Russian speakers to produce. You might have problems with v. Make sure that your top teeth touch the inside of  your bottom lip and this will allow the v sound to vibrate. Try saying aloud the following words,
  • vine
  • vote
  • valley
  • van
  • vinegar

You might also encounter the same difficulties with w. Perhaps you mix them up so that vest becomes west and vine becomes wine. For pronouncing w make sure the lips start in a tight round shape and your top teeth are not touching the bottom lip. Try saying aloud the following words,
  • west
  • wine
  • wind
  • win
  • wheel

Distinguishing between the sounds of ee and i can also be difficult and in an earlier post I wrote about this. Please click here for practice with the sounds of ee and i ( as in heat and hit).

Sometimes the English sound of t is difficult and is mistakenly sounded as a d. For example the word tip is pronounced as dip instead. For the t sound make sure the tip of the tongue remains behind the top teeth. 

The sound of ing can also be challenging. Sometimes instead of the ing being pronounced as one sound, it can come out as just n. Remember that ing is a soft nasal sound and this helps it not sound too hard. 

It is often helpful when working on individual sounds, to have a hand mirror to make sure that your tongue is in the correct position and that your mouth is in the correct shape. It is also worth recording yourself so that you can evaluate the sounds and keep track of your progress.

I am a qualified Accent Reduction Tutor and have helped many Russian speakers with the challenges of the English language. You are welcome to contact me for a free evaluation.