As we all know, Russian language contains Cyrillic letters instead of Latin. The pronunciation of these letters differs greatly. First of all, when Russians start learning english
, they see that the letters look similar and they try to pronounce them as if they would have pronounced Russian letters. This creates a difficulty. Let's have a closer look.
Russian consonants can be either soft or hard. english
consonants are somewhere in the middle. For example: Russians have t (hard) – t' (soft), whereas english
has “t” only somewhere in the middle. The tongue position differs, so Russian students when learning english
have to develop a new “tongue habit” to put it into another place to get a good pronunciation result in english
Russian language also doesn't have some of the english
letters and sounds at all. For example: “th”. Here the teacher
has to pay much more attention to make the students repeat correctly. A lot of choral repetition, and individual explanation, and feedback has to be given. I've seen some people experiencing difficulties in connection “s – th” like in the expression: “Is this?” Some other letters that do not exist in Russian and may contain a difficulty in pronunciation are: “g”, “w”, “n – nasal”.
A separate speech is about the “r” english
letter. Here the students need to start learning like kids
. There is nothing similar to this sound in Russian, so it's quite a tongue twister. I would suggest drilling different letter combinations with “r”: ra – ro – ri – ru – re – ry – raw – ray – river – ready – curios – street etc.
Another problem for pronunciation is skipping right letters. In Russian language people are not used to skip consonants at all, whereas in english
it is a regular experience: “knife”, “right”. A very typical problem for Russians is a pronunciation of the “ing” ending since there are no nasal sounds in Russian. Students tend to read how they see. It is very hard for them to remember the places where the letters are orally transformed into something else.
Some consonants in english
have a double sounding depending on the way they are used. For example, “g” can be read as in “grass” or as in “general”. This creates another problem. Russians in the beginning tend to confuse open and closed syllables and place the accent in a wrong place. All this can be easily “cured” by frequent repetitions of different words, and making sure that students hear the right example many times. Then the sense of correct pronunciation appears.
Another pronunciation problem is inability to hear the difference between different sounds. For example: “these – this.” A slight difference in the vowel length may stay ignored. Emphasizing this and encouraging students to hear the difference is important.
These are all the major difficulties in pronunciation I've noticed so far. Of course, the problems may vary depending on people's attentiveness and wish to pronounce correctly. There are some people in Russia who can't pronounce their own language correctly. What to say about english
then? Still pronunciation problems in Russia are not very deep and can be overcome with a certain amount of training and wish.