Advanced 11 – English Pronunciation
Student: Manuel Alejandro Ocaña Palacios
Differentiating voiced and voiceless consonants
Learning to notice the slightvariation in the way English native speakers pronounce two similar consonant sounds is often a source of confusion for students learning English. Since many consonant sounds that exist on Englishlanguage do not occur in other languages like Spanish or Portuguese, mastering the correct pronunciation of every English consonant sound is a complex process. Because of this, a basic step for studentsin the learning process is to understand the importance of distinguishing between voiced and voiceless consonant sounds in American English pronunciation. There are many reasons why learning todifferentiate these sounds correctly is very important.
First of all, students have to be aware of the sound differences between their language and the English language. In some cases, students probablywon’t recognize that there is a problem as their language has only one sound where English has two different sounds, but it will be easily recognizable for a native speaker. For example, most Germanspeakers are not able to pronounce the sound [dʒ] because it doesn’t exist in their language. They will probably replace the voiced sound [dʒ] with the voiceless sound [tʃ], so a word like “joking”would sound as “choking”, and that could lead to some unintended consequences if a person says “I’m choking” instead of “I’m joking”.
Another important reason is that vowel sounds that come beforevoiced consonants have a long, stretched out sound. An easily recognizable example of this characteristic occurs in the pronunciation of the words “bet” and “bed”. The letter [d] is a voicedconsonant, so when native English speakers say the word “bed” they prolong the sound [ɛ]; on the other hand, the sound [ɛ] in the word “bet” is shorter in length since the letter [t] is a voiceless sound....