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Home: English Pronunciation Mini-Course for Japanese Learners, Page 4

English Pronunciation Mini-Course
for Japanese Learners
Page 4 of 4

Lesson 4: F/H sounds


I always get tickled at how many, if not most, of my students pronounce the H sound in words like Yahoo (Yahoo.co.jp is the most visited website in Japan) with an F sound. Thus, it sounds like "yah-FOO." Similarly, many students pronounce "hula" also with an F sound, as in "FOO-lah."

And I guess it comes as no surprise that English words like Fuji (well, technically a Japanese word, but spelled with an F in English) are pronounced with an H sound, as in "HOO-jee." Hmm.

Although not as common a pronunciation problem as the TH/S, R/L, & B/V sounds, the F/H sounds can nonetheless cause some communication difficulties in many cases, especially for untrained ears unaccustomed to hearing Japanese English.

The good news, though, is that not only is making the English F sound very easy, it's exactly the same mouth position as the V sound, touching your bottom lip to your top teeth. But with the F sound, you just push out the air a bit more forcefully.  

How to make the F sound
How to make the F sound
(photo credit: ecotechfinland.com)

On the other hand, making the H sound simply requires remembering NOT to touch your bottom lip to your top teeth. And in the case of words like '"Yahoo" & "hula," to make the HOO sound, you just push the air out with your lips shaped like a circle or a capital "O".

F/H sounds speaking practice

Same as before, in this video the teacher will first read an F word from the left column, and then its similar sounding H word in the right column. Please repeat the word pairs after the teacher, one by one, for your pronunciation practice. Remember to touch your bottom lip to your top teeth for the F sound, but NOT for the H sound.


  F/H sounds speaking practice
(click link above to view a larger-size video on separate page)

Alright, good job. Please replay this video as necessary until you feel comfortable correctly pronouncing the F & H sounds. And now on to the F/H sounds listening practice.

F/H sounds listening practice

Now it's time for some listening practice with the F/H sounds. The teacher will read 10 words from either the left column or the right column. Please write down your answers on a piece of paper. He will say each word twice.


F/H sounds listening practice
(click link above to view a larger-size video on separate page)

Ok, congratulations, you're done! Now you can check your answers by clicking below on the “Show/Hide answers” link, which will reveal the 10 words which the teacher just said. If you got more than 3 or 4 answers wrong, you might want to do this listening exercise again for more practice.

Show/Hide answers


F/H sounds dictation practice

Our final exercise in this mini-course is F/H sounds sentence dictation practice. The teacher will read 2 sentences using the F & H sounds and you should write down the sentences on a piece of paper as best you can. The teacher will say each sentence 3 times, the 2nd time more slowly than native speed.


F/H sounds dictation practice
(click link above to view a larger-size video on separate page)

Ok, well done! You can now check your answers by clicking below on the “Show/Hide answers” link, which will reveal the 2 sentences which the teacher just said. If you found this difficult, you might want to try this dictation exercise again for more practice.

Show/Hide answers


Ok, よくやった (yoku yatta)! You’re now done with Lesson 4. If you want more practice with the F/H sounds, you might want to check your listening with an easy F/H quiz on this page. (First read the instructions, then click on the blue "Start" arrow. After each question, click the blue right arrow to continue the quiz on the next page.)

Otherwise, CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve now completed our pronunciation mini-course! I hope you've found it useful! Best wishes with your future English pronunciation.



Acknowlegements:
1) Thanks to Brett Milliner, Asst. Professor at Tamagawa University, for introducing me to the amazing Tellagami app.
2) Thanks also to the International Education Services English language school in Japan as the source of much of the learning material used in this mini-course.




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