A common error that ESL speakers make when speaking English and learning English pronunciation is to leave out consonant sounds at the end of words. The reason for this is simple — some languages have different rules for using final consonants and in many languages there are fewer final consonants used than in English. In Mandarin, for example, the only sounds used in final position of words are n and ng. So when a Mandarin speaker learns English, it is often difficult for them to produce the final consonants in words. Teaching people to say the final sounds is a important for both English pronunciation and accent reduction.
Leaving out final consonants in English can make it very difficult to understand what we are saying, and it is also one of the major factors in making English sound heavily accented. Some of the main consonant sounds speakers leave out include: p, t, k , b, d, g, and f. So, for example, if you say the word “seat” without the final t sound, the word is changed to “see”. This will contribute to an accent and can also lead to significant misunderstandings since the final consonant sound is often critical to the meaning of the English word.
You can improve your use of final consonants in English by practicing saying words with the p, t, k b, d, g, and f sounds at the end of words. Make sure you are not leaving out the final sounds. If you place your hand on your throat as you say the following words, you should feel movement in your throat as you say the final consonant in the word. Try it: “Dig, Bud, Tab, Bob, Dog, Mug, Bib, Cod, Boat, Soap”. And, here’s an extra tip. If you are having trouble saying the final sounds at first, you can start by exaggerating the final sound. Once you get good at single words, you can focus on saying the final sounds when reading sentences and paragraphs out loud. Saying the final consonants in words is guaranteed to change your accent and improve you speech!
“Accent Reduction Explained” is a client-requested series created to provide core accent reduction knowledge and strategies for changing an accent. Information, including specifics about English pronunciation, can be applied to multiple accents including French, Chinese, Russian, Indian, Spanish, Arabic and Italian accents. Our goal is to demystify accent reduction so people can easily improve their English speaking skills to be better understood. We are committed to promoting diversity and helping people worldwide to join the conversation.