3 Major Korean Pronunciation Errors in English

Korean English Pronunciation

If you wish to be understood clearly in English, then avoiding these typical Korean pronunciation errors when speaking in English is a must.

At Confidence Learning Services, we work with clients from many countries, including Korea, to help them improve their communication skills in English. Korea is a beautiful country, and Korean is one of few east Asian languages to have a simple, phonetic alphabet and lack the tonality that make Mandarin or Vietnamese so different from English. However, there are still some typical errors that Korean speakers make when learning English, and making sure that you avoid these mispronunciations is important.

Korean Pronunciation Error #3

Korean English Pronunciation

Some English sounds simply do not exist in Korean, which include many friction sounds such as /f/, /v/, /z/, and /ð/.  Because of this, it can be difficult for Korean speakers to differentiate between these three words. “Live from the newsroom” and “Lies from the newsroom” have two drastically different meanings, so it’s important to avoid this typical Korean pronunciation error.

Korean Pronunciation Error #2

Korean Pronunciation Errors

Korean words never have more than 2 consonants pronounced in one syllable. In this word, there are 3 consonants in a row, followed by a vowel and then two more consonants together. Thus we encounter the resulting Korean pronunciation error. In English, the word ‘Sprint’ is just one syllable, while in Korean it would have three or possibly 4.

Korean Pronunciation Error #1

Korean Accent Reduction

In Korean, consonants are not released unless they are followed by a vowel in the same syllable (eg 맛이 – mashi ), and word final consonants are never released (eg 맛 – mat). Because of this, Koreans learning English often add an extra ‘u’, or ‘i’ vowel to the end of each English word that ends with a consonant.Thus “Fish” may become “Fishy”, a word with a totally different meaning.

Most of our Korean clients enjoy great success in improving their pronunciation and accent, and are able to communicate more clearly and confidently after just one 12 week session.

If you would like to learn more about improving your communication skills in English, contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 for a free English Pronunciation evaluation. We will assess your pronunciation of every sound in the English language, at no cost or obligation to you, in the convenience of your own home or office via Skype.

Why is English so hard to pronounce? English Phonology

English so hard to pronounce

At Confidence Learning Services, we readily admit that English is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn. While there are many rules in the English language about how words are pronounced, there are also quite a few exceptions and areas where particular rules do not apply. Understanding these tricky areas will help you to be more successful in communicating in English. For native speakers, understanding these areas will help you to be more sensitive to the plight of those who speak English as a second langauge.

Five Aspects that make English so hard to pronounce

English is a difficult language to pronounce. Depending on your language background, you will likely find various parts of the “phonology” or sounds of English complicated or extremely difficult to master.

Areas that are considered to be the most complex or confusing include:

  • Stress on words
  • Vowel and consonant sounds
  • Combined sounds
  • Physical attributes
  • Translation between languages

Stress on Words

In English, words that are spelled identically are stressed differently depending on their meaning. For example, with the word “record,” there is a different stress based on whether we wish to refer to the noun of a piece of music media or to the verb for the actual act of registering or putting in writing a piece of information or saving a piece of music.

This might seem overwhelming at first, although understanding that nouns tend to be stressed on the first syllable, and verbs tend to be stressed on the last syllable does help with the learning process.

Therefore, English language learners cannot simply base the pronunciation of a word on what they see. They also need to learn to look for contextual clues around that word, in order to determine the correct way to pronounce it.

Vowel and Consonant Sounds

English language learners need to distinguish between vowels and consonants, a fairly easy task. However, students must then begin studying the different English vowel sounds. Although there are about 12 vowel sounds and various diphthongs, there are only 5 “written” vowels, meaning the spelling of words is rarely phonetic, and one written vowel can represent several different sounds. For example:

  • The vowel “a” makes a very different sound in the words “bake”, “small” and “apple.”
  • Consonants can change a bit as well. A “t” in the word “tackle” is very different in sound from a “t” in the word “water” and “s” in “docks” sounds different from “s” in “dogs.”

The pronunciation of vowel and consonant sounds vary with the word in which they are used.

Combined “Digraph” Sounds

Sometimes when consonants come together, the pronunciation gets confusing. A non-native speaker would see “t” and “h” and want to pronounce those sounds separately. However, they come together to create a blended digraph sound. Another example of this is when the letters “c” and “k” come together in words as a back, rack, pack, tackle, and so forth.

The person learning English might initially see these two letters as distinct, when they really represent a single sound.

Physical Attributes of English sounds

The way in which people speak is, of course, related to physical properties of the mouth region. For example, there are some words which absolutely require speakers to put both of their lips together in order to produce the sound, (like “b” or “p”) while other sounds require sticking the tongue through the teeth (like “th”). While it seems natural to a native speaker, to learners many of these sounds require awkward mouth positions and tongue movements, a sort of yoga for the mouth.

Translation Between Languages

Often when you try to learn a sound in a new language, you look for a sound in your native language to compare it to. However, there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence between English and a learner’s background language. For example, the sounds of “th” and “v” do not exist in many languages. Therefore, learners cannot pronounce these sounds by comparing them to their native language. Often, they find a similar – but not identical – sound in their language, so that “th” becomes “f” and “v” becomes “w.”

Practice and Repetition

The only way that English pronunciation can improve is with practice and repetition. Changing pronunciation habits is very different from learning new vocabulary. Knowing “how” to pronounce a word is very different from actually pronouncing it clearly every time.

Learn more – sign up for your free English Pronunciation Assessment from Confidence Learning Services today, and you’ll get an in-depth evaluation of your pronunciation of every sound in the English language. Contact us at 1-865-226-9477 to sign up.

Improving your English as a Native Spanish Speaker

Is Spanish Your First Language? Common Pronunciation Problems You Might Face

When working to improve your English as a native Spanish speaker, one of the most challenging aspects is becoming comfortable using English pronunciation.

accent reduction in knoxville

Words and sentences in Spanish are approached differently than in English, requiring speakers to learn a new set of pronunciation rules in order to properly communicate using connecting sounds, intonation, and stress. Even if you have spoken English for decades, pronunciation can still be difficult.

When learning English, it’s important to focus on using correct English pronunciation in order to avoid forming a habit of pronouncing words and sentences incorrectly. By overviewing the top three pronunciation problems native Spanish speakers face when learning English, you can evaluate your own English pronunciation and see how well you speak with an American accent.

Pronouncing the “th” sounds /ð/ /θ/

The fact that the English letter combination can be pronounced two ways, voiced (with vibration in the throat and vocal chords) and unvoiced (with no vocal chord vibration) doesn’t help that it is an already difficult sound.

Both of these sounds involve the tongue coming out between the teeth and making a continuous sound that can be held out for several seconds if necessary. The air should not be completely stopped, but there should be constant friction between the tongue and the teeth.

Because this is an awkward sound to make (sticking the tongue out of the mouth feels a little weird!), Spanish speakers often substitute /t/ for the unvoiced “th” /θ/ sound and a /d/ for the voiced “th” /ð/ sound. Thus, the English words “that” and “other” are often pronounced as “dat” and “oder” and the English words “three” and “thing” are pronounced as “tree” and “ting.

To see if you’re pronouncing the English “th” sound correctly, it’s best to look at yourself in the mirror as you pronounce words like “that” “other” “three” and “thing”. If you can see the tongue coming out between the teeth, you know you are probably pronouncing those sounds correctly. Additionally, you should feel some friction, vibration, or tingling in the tongue as you say these sounds.

It’s not enough to say these sounds correctly in front of a mirror by yourself. Your correct pronunciation must be used in your speech. Try saying the sentence, “Get those other three things, please.” Focus on using correct pronunciation as you pronounce this sentence. Then, you can focus on pronouncing this sound clearly in your regular speech.

S-blend Pronunciation

In English, we often pronounce many consonants together at once, which is different from Spanish pronunciation. As a result, Spanish speakers tend to insert extra vowel sounds in their words. This is especially problematic for words that begin with “s” followed by another consonant (sp-, sl-, st-, sk-, sp-, etc.).

As a result, Spanish speakers usually pronounce words like “spit” as “espit” or “slide” as “eslide.”

English pronunciation

To see if you’re pronouncing these words correctly, try saying the word “stop.” Place your hand on your neck, and pay close attention to the vibration that you feel, repeating the word several times. If you feel vibration at the beginning of the word, or if you feel your vibration turning off and on again within the word, you know that you are not pronouncing the word correctly. You should not feel any vibration in the neck until you say the “o” sound.

To practice this sound in context, practice saying the sentence, “Please speak to your son about screaming and slapping the other students.”

Pronunciation of Final Consonant Blends

Similarly, English combines many consonants at the end of words, and this can be difficult as well.

Thus, words like “tired” may be pronounced “tire”, “hold” is pronounced “hole” and “last” is pronounced “last.”

To see if you’re pronouncing these sounds clearly, record yourself saying the following sentence combinations:

“I watched a lot of TV/ I watch a lot of TV”

“I cleaned the house/I clean the house”

“You added an extra sound/You add an extra sound.”

Can you hear a clear difference between the first sentence and second sentence in each pair? If not, you’re not pronouncing those consonant blends correctly.

To practice these sounds, try saying two words together, like “feel down”, and then gradually eliminate more and more of the word “down” so you are saying “field”, still retaining a clear /d/ sound.

Due to the varying pronunciation problems that exist when learning English as a Spanish speaker, and the small differences that differentiate letters, working with an online Accent coach is one of the easiest ways to ensure you learn English pronunciation correctly. Participating in an online educational setting, native Spanish speakers can work one-on-one with a certified instructor to receive a personalized accent assessment and pinpoint specific pronunciation areas that need improvement.

You can improve your American English pronunciation and fluency between 50-80% in just 12-weeks! Sign up today for a free evaluation to see how Confidence Accent Reduction can work for you. 

Scare, Scary, or Scared? Pronouncing English Word Endings

Pronouncing English

Pronouncing English can be tough. Did you mean to say scare, scary, or scared?





 Pronouncing English  Pronouncing English  Pronouncing English

They are scared.

The bear will scare her. This house is scary.

Adding a “y” to the end of a word changes a noun or verb into an adjective.How you pronounce each one of those words changes the meaning of your sentence dramatically. In pronouncing English, it is important to pronounce the word ending clearly, which is why Confidence Learning Services often focuses on pronunciation even in our standard English courses. Changing the word ending usually changes its meaning.

So in saying “There is a lot of noise downstairs,” noise is a noun. I could switch it out with another noun I’m more familiar with just to check if it still works. If I say, “There is a lot of cake downstairs,” that sentence still works.

I could also say, “It is very noisy downstairs.” Now that I have added the y to the base form, noisy becomes an adjective. But just to double check, I can switch out that word with another adjective I’m more familiar with to see if that sentence still works. If I say, “It is very nice downstairs,” that sentence still works.

I cannot say “There is a lot of noisy downstairs” because that’s an adjective, not a noun. Just like I could not say “There is a lot of nice downstairs.” I also cannot say “It is very noise downstairs” because that is a noun, just like I could not say “It is very cake downstairs.”

Pronouncing English Word Endings in Sentences

Let’s look at those example sentences again:

Correct Double Check WRONG
Noun There is a lot of noise downstairs. There is a lot of cake downstairs. There is a lot of noisy downstairs.
Adjective It is very noisy downstairs. It is very nice downstairs. It is very noise downstairs.


Pronouncing English word endings is just as important as knowing which ones to use. Even if you are thinking of saying the correct sentence, if you don’t pronounce the end clearly, a listener could hear an incorrect statement that doesn’t make sense.

So let’s go over the pronunciation of some commonly confused words. Each word that ends in a “y” should be pronounced with a clear, high, /i/ vowel sound, adding an extra syllable to the base form of the word.

Pronouncing English Word Endings – Examples

If you’re unsure of the pronunciation of a word, click on it to listen to the recording of that word at Dictionary.com

Noise Noisy
Fog Foggy
Cloud Cloudy
Gloom Gloomy
Dirt Dirty
Show Showy
Gloss Glossy
Grease Greasy
Snow Snowy
Mood Moody
Ice Icy
Scare Scary
Chew Chewy
Juice Juicy
Rock Rocky
Taste Tasty
Sun Sunny
Fun Funny
Curl Curly
Luck Lucky
Push Pushy
Mess Messy
Bump Bumpy
Salt Salty


Of course, these are not all of the examples from the English language, but it’s a good start.

If you find that people often ask you to repeat yourself, of if you are nervous about talking on the phone or giving presentations in English, you may benefit from English Pronunciation Training/Accent Reduction. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to learn more about getting a free Accent evaluation and get started with your course today.

American English Pronunciation Tips and Secrets

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Even if you have spent years in the U.S., people might still pick up on your accent if it doesn’t match Standard American English Pronunciation. Maybe you are tired of repeating yourself several times a day, or perhaps you would just like to avoid the infamous, “Where are you from?” question. Either way, you could definitely benefit from dedicating some time to American English Pronunciation practice. Here are some tips to help you in that process:

Learn to recognize the correct American English Pronunciation

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

The first step in speaking clearly is to listen clearly. Choose a few difficult words and pay attention to how various native speakers say those words – store cashiers, restaurant wait staff, radio DJs or news broadcasters. You might hear some variation among native speakers, but you should hear some of the same qualities in each different pronunciation.

Want to improve your American English Pronunciation? Forget about spelling.

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Unfortunately, American English isn’t written phonetically. This means one letter can make up to 20 different sounds. So spelling is very deceptive! Many people learned to read and write English first, and have memorized the correct spelling of each word. So they think that there is a round /o/ sound in the word “option” because it is spelled with the letter “o”, or that “word” and “bird” cannot rhyme because they are written with different vowels. The best way to learn American English is to close the dictionary, forget about how the word is spelled, and just listen. Try to make the same sounds as the native speaker you are imitating, no matter how the word is spelled.

Find a speech model with good American English Pronunciation.

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Like I mentioned before, there can be some variation among native English speakers, which can be confusing for someone trying to improve their pronunciation. Choose one person to be your “speech model”. This is not a friend or family member, but instead an American celebrity, actor/actress, or other public figure of your same gender. You should choose someone whose voice you enjoy and whom you enjoy watching. Spend a lot of time watching that person on television, or finding short clips of them on YouTube. Pause the video after each sentence and practice repeating the sentence, mimicking the speaker’s attitude, facial expressions, body language, etc. Go back and repeat the process again, until you can “do an impression” or “mimic” your speech model convincingly.

Watch your vowels!

Even though the English alphabet only has 5 written vowels, we have at least 11 spoken vowels in American English. These vowels are always a dead-giveaway for anyone who doesn’t have standard American English Pronunciation. Pay close attention to the vowels in any word you are working on pronouncing.

The words “beat-bit-bait-bet-bat-but-boot-boat-bite-bout” should each have different vowel sounds.

Use the right American English resources.

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Dictionary.com is a great resource for listening to the pronunciation of any given word. Merriam-Webster.com is another. Practice listening to the example pronunciation of the word you are studying, and then record yourself imitating the correct pronunciation

Seek help from an Accent Coach specializing in American English Pronunciation

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Although you can make a lot of progress on your own, you will be much more successful with a trained specialistwho can administer in depth evaluations, make personalized recommendations, and provide live feedback. Confidence Learning Services provides Accent Coaching worldwide via Skype, or on-site in East Tennessee.


Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to start out with a complimentary, no-strings attached Accent and Pronunciation Evaluation.