English Pronunciation Podcast
Free English Pronunciation and Accent Reduction Lessons
Home English Pronunciation Pod 42
Podcast Archive

Saturday June 27th, 2009
English Pronunciation Podcast 42-
How to Pronounce the Consonant /z/
: This podcast teaches you how to pronounce /z/.


In this week's podcast, we're going to learn how to pronounce the consonant sound /z/ as in the words "zoo " and "lose."

Pronouncing this consonant can be quite challenging, especially if your first language is Korean or Japanese. However, this lesson is important for everybody no matter what your first language is because students confuse /z/ with /s/ or /ʃ/.

ThIs consonant is very common in English and learning to recognize it by its spelling is also an important step in speaking English with a clear American accent.
Before we discuss these topics, it's important to first go over the rules of articulation for /z/.

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • Learning how to pronounce the consonant /z/ accurately, like a native speaker.
  • Practicing this sound in some key words and common American expressions and idioms.

So let's begin by learning how to pronounce the sound /z/.

How to Pronounce /z/:

The good news is that of you can pronounce /s/ you can also pronounce /z/.
That's because the tongue and lip position for /s/ is exactly the same as /z/. The only difference bewteen /s/ and /z/ is voicing. When we say /z/ we use our voice- our vocal folds vibrate but /s/ does not involve our voice. /s/ and /z/ are a voiceless and voiced pair.

Tongue: Point the tip of your tongue forward to the gum ridge (bump on the roof of your mouth.) Do not touch the ridge. The sides of the tongue should gently touch the side teeth. Create a small hole for the air to flow through
Exhale and vocalize - feel the air flow over the center of your tongue.

lips: slightly spread.

In podcast #32 , we learned about "stop consonants" and "continuant consonants". /s/ is a continuant because the air flows continuously over the center of our tongue.

In podcast #30, we learned about "voiced" and "voiceless" consonants. /z/ is a voiced consonant because we use our voice to make this sound.

Exercise: Listen and repeat: /z/

/z/ ... /z/ ...

Pronunciation Tip:

If you're having trouble pronouncing /z/, remember- it's the same position as /s/. You can learn to pronounce /z/ by breaking it down into these two steps.

Step1) put your tongue and lips into the /s/ position and make the sound /s/

Step2) add your voice

Or you can do it the other way around:

Step 1 ) make a vowel sound

Step2) put your tongue into the postion for /s/

I'm gently raising my tongue tip to create an /s/ position as I vocalize.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words containing /z/.
Pay careful attention to your form.

zoo... zip ... zen ... easy ... musician .. result ...crazy .. lose...

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following American expressions and idioms containing /z/:

That store was a zoo. ( unorganized and filled with rude, aggressive people)

You snooze you lose . (snooze =sleep , If you don't take action you won't get anything)

Your estimate is on the nose. (exact, right)

Spelling Patterns of /z/

One of the most challenging aspects of learning English pronuciation is that one sound can have a few different spelings.
In most languages, there's a direct correspondence between the spelling of a word and its sound. In your native language, the way a word is written is almost always the way it sounds.
Unfortunately, this not the case in English. As you can see from the previous examples./z/ has a few different spelling patterns.
Obviously, <z> is can be pronounced /z/. However, sometimes the letter <s> is also pronounced /z/.
This tricky aspect of English spelling will be discussed in detail in a future podcast.

Practice is Key!

Speaking English clearly and correctly takes a lot of practice.
But with practice you will get it!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

It's important to have right training tools in order to improve your accent.

That's why I recommend that you check it out my English Pronunciation Course in mp3 format- Best Accent Training mp3s!

No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need for speaking English clearly and correctly.

All the sounds of English in one course!

Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go!

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:   contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!


Tell a Friend

After practicing with Best Accent Training daily,
I can say that my English communication has improved 100%. "

- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

Get the full English pronunciation course now

Full Pronunciation Course
About Us


Add to Google Reader or Homepage



Untitled Document Untitled Document Untitled Document Untitled Document Untitled Document Untitled Document Untitled Document