4 English pronunciation challenges for native Vietnamese speakers

Vietnamese has three major dialects: Northern, Central and Southern.  Vietnamese is a tonal language: each of its 6 tones changes the meaning of a word.

Native Vietnamese speakers face 4 main English pronunciation challenges when speaking English:

1. Learning English speech sounds not found in some dialects of Vietnamese, e.g.:

  • voiceless “th” as in thick or maths;
  • voiced “th” as in this or that;
  • “ch” as in chair or match;
  • “sh” (used in Central and Southern dialects);
  • “”j” as in jam or majesty (used in Central and Southern dialects); and
  • “z” as in Zach or fees (used in Northern dialect only).

2. Learning how to use combinations or “clusters” of consonants together, e.g. when saying English words containing consecutive consonants like “sl”, “sm”, “sw”, “skr”, “br”, “pr”, “ld” and “pt”.  Vietnamese uses no consonant clusters.

3. Learning how to pronounce English words of more than one syllable, including using strong (or stressed) and weak syllables correctly to produce English words.  (Vietnamese words are primarily monosyllabic, although some multisyllabic words exist.)

4. Learning English sentence stress patterns and prosody, including English intonation patterns.

Speech pathologists are specially trained to teach people how to pronounce sounds and to use correct word and sentence stress patterns. If you need help with your English pronunciation, get in touch.

Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Facts on Vietnamese Phonology, retrieved from here.

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Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

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