Here’s a little trick I wrote about in issue 211 of Speak Up magazine. It also appeared in Jornal do Brasil late last year. Essentially, it’s a fun way for teachers to show students how to pronounce the English th.
The problem with the English th is that you must do something with your tongue that you don’t have to do when you speak Portuguese. You must place the tip of your tongue lightly against your upper front teeth and then let air pass between your tongue and your teeth to make the sound.
(demonstration: soft th)
(demonstration: hard th)
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Coincidentally, this is the same thing that happens to people who suffer from a lisp (língua presa). They mispronounce the letter s by placing their tongue lightly against their upper front teeth.
In Brazil, the most famous lisp belongs to President Lula. So why not let President Lula help us improve our English?
Ask your students the following question: How would Lula say sopa?
They should answer, Thopa!
Next, tell them to pay attention to what they did with their tongues. Then ask them to repeat the word thopa three times for practice.
Thopa! Thopa! Thopa!
Finally, remind your students that they can use the same tongue position to correctly pronounce English words such as brother, three, and thank you.
See you next week!