American English can be a difficult language for native French speakers to pronounce. French speakers tend to have a lot of interface, or using characteristics of their first language when speaking a non-native language. When they speak English and can carry their accent and grammar rules into English where those rules may not apply. While the journey towards learning English varies from one person to another, here are the top four issues native French speakers have when learning English.
Although English has a lot of patterns to help non-native learners understand syllable stress, English is much more irregular than the patterns of French. English pronunciation is in rhythm; for example words that end in –tion, -sion, or –ic suffex are stressed one syllable before the suffix. Interestingly, many of those same words can also have –al and –ally added to them causing the stressed syllable to not move and make words like classic become classically.
I vs. E
Native French speakers often substitute the short I sound with the long e sound. The differences between the words still and steel depend on proper pronunciation.
Voiced & Unvoiced th sounds
French speakers often use a z sound in place of the voiced th and an s sound in place of the unvoiced th. This trouble area can cause words like “then” to be pronounced as “zen,” and “think” to be spoken as “sink.” Given that many voiced and unvoiced th words create other English words when used incorrectly, miscommunication can occur very easily if proper pronunciation doesn’t occur.
Ch versus J
English has two sounds that are affricates: the ch sound and the j sound. To properly create an affricate, you must use your tongue to stop air for a small amount of time, and then releasing the air with friction. French speakers tend to pronounce the ch sound as sh, and pronounce the j sound like a zh due to creating just the released sound instead of the entire affricate. This means that the word chip gets mispronounced as ship.
Since many of the issues French speakers face when speaking English are due to creating actual words, just not the intended words, learning where the areas of improvement are can be difficult to pinpoint. For example, many French speakers will wonder if they said “I have a ship on my shoulder” as an incorrect idiom, without realizing that the word ship should have been pronounced as chip. Therefore, it’s extremely useful to work with an ASHA certified online Speech Pathologist who can help you find the areas of improvement and learn correct English pronunciation.
If you’ve been trying to learn American English for awhile now but haven’t had much success, online speech pathologists can help you significantly improve your American English pronunciation in as little as 12 weeks. Instead of struggling to learn American English on your own, begin enjoying learning a new language working with an online ASHA speech pathologist today!