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Common Pronunciation Traits in Accent Reduction for Individuals Who Speak Korean as Their First Language

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There are many Korean individuals who have immigrated to America. Although many of them speak English fluently, it is common for a native Korean speaker to have an accent when speaking English. Although the degree or severity of accent varies from person to person, focusing on specific sound differences with the help of a licensed speech therapist may help Korean speakers reduce their accents. Learning to speak with less of an accent can aid in obtaining a job, being promoted within a job, and feeling more confident in communicating in English in daily life.

Common Pronunciation Difficulties for Korean Speakers of English

Distinguishing Between /l/ and /r/ Sounds

One of the most common difficulties for Korean speakers of English is the ability to distinguish between /l/ and /r/ sounds, such as in the words “light” and “right”, and therefore, these sounds are often substituted for each other, incorrectly. Additionally, an /l/ at the end of words is often omitted, as in the words “ball”, and “mile”.

Other Common Sound Substitutions

Other sound substitutions commonly occurring in Korean speakers’ English are: /j/ for /z/ at beginning of words, such as “jipper” for “zipper”; /b/ for /v/ as in “bery” for “very”; /t/ or /s/ for /th-voiceless/ as in “ting” or “sing” for “thing”, and “wiss” for “with”; and /d/ for /th-voiced/ sounds, as in “da” for “the”. Also, words containing /er/ usually are pronounced with a very diminished or absent /r/ sound, such as “bud” for “bird”, and “undah” for “under.”

The Short ‘i’ Vowel

The short ‘i’ vowel that occurs in a word such as “bit” is a sound typically replaced by Korean speakers with a long ‘e’ sound. Examples of this are: “bit” usually pronounced as “beat”, “will” as “wheel”, and “Tim” as “team”. As one can see, by changing the pronunciation of the vowel, the words take on completely different meanings which can cause confusion in communication.

Individualized Accent Reduction Course for Individuals Who Speak Korean as their First Language

Through the accent reduction course that I teach, and consistent practice, many Korean speaking individuals have improved their communication skills and speak Standard American English with a markedly reduced accent.

About the Author

Derra Huxley, M.A.Derra Huxley is a California licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Los Angeles having earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Northridge. You can also find her on , Twitter and Facebook. She specializes in Accent Modification, having been trained and certified to utilize the nationally acclaimed Compton P-ESL Program through the Institute of Language and Phonology. She has worked with adults with varying degrees of accents from around the globe to improve their pronunciation of English.View all posts by Derra Huxley, M.A.

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