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Saturday Sep 26th, 2009
English Pronunciation Podcast 48-
How to Pronounce the Consonant /ʒ/
: This podcast teaches you how to pronounce the consonant /ʃ/ as in the words "usually" and "vision" with an American accent.


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

Pronouncing this consonant can be quite challenging, especially if your first language is Spanish, Italian, Arabic, German, Korean, Chinese or Japanese.
However, this lesson is important for everybody, no matter what your first language is because the American /ʒ/ occurs in several important words.

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • Learning how to pronounce the consonant /ʒ/ 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 /ʒ/.

How to Pronounce /ʒ/:

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 your tongue should gently touch your back teeth. Create a hole for the air to flow through.
Exhale and vocalize, feel the air flow over the center of your tongue.

lips: slightly protruded (forward and turned out)

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

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

Exercise: Listen and repeat: /ʒ/

/ʒ/ ... /ʒ/ ...

Pronunciation Tip:

If you're having trouble pronouncing /ʒ/, remember that /ʒ/ and /ʃ/ are a voiced and voiceless pair. This means that the tongue and lip position for /ʃ/ is exactly the same as /ʒ/ . The only difference is that for /ʒ/ we add our voice.

We can break this process into two steps as in the following exercise:

Step1) /ʃ/

Step2) Add your voice while your tongue remains in the position of /ʃ/ .... /ʒ/

Step 3) Combine postion of step 1 with vocalization of step 2: /ʒ/

Avoid This Mistake:
Many students, think they are pronouncing /ʒ/ correctly but are actually pronouncing it incorrectly because their tongue tip is to far forward and tense.Their /ʒ/ sounds like something between /z/ and /ʒ/ because their tongue tip is too far forward and too high. Therefore, their /ʃ/ sounds like this: ...

Listen to the incorrect and then correct pronunciations ....

Be sure your tongue is back and that the the tip is lowered and not too tense, creating a larger hole for the air to pass through.

Another common mistake is pronouncing /ʒ/ like /dʒ/ .
Correcting both of these mistakes will be covered in full detail in future podcasts.

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

vision ... Asia ... measure ... occasion ... decision ... usual ... casual ... pleasure

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

It's my pleasure. ( I'm really glad to help )

Her boss has tunnel vision. (is closed minded, not open to new ideas or ways of doing things)

My cooking doesn't measure up to my mother's. ( It's not as high quality, isn't up to standard)

Practice is Key!

The consonant sound /ʒ/ can be very challenging for students. It can take a lot of practice but it's important to practice correctly.

The best way to learn a new a sound is to practice it slowly.
The" secret " to speaking English clearly and quickly is practicing slowly and accurately.

Learning to speak English with a standard American accent is a gradual process, but if you work at it regularly and practice as often as you can, you're going to improve!

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.

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You get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

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

Thank you and see you next time!


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

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

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