English Pronunciation Resources for Native Chinese Speakers

Though most Chinese students have learned English for many years and can explain grammar rules in details, sometimes you will find it hard to be understood by native English speakers. That is because of the textbook language and wrong pronunciation. Here are some common pronunciation problems of native Chinese speakers and recommended resources to improve your speaking skills!

Common Pronunciation Problems

Add /ə/ after words ending with consonants

Chinese speakers tend to add the schwa sound /ə/ after words ending with consonants because Mandarin characters never end with consonants. For example, some Chinese speakers may pronounce the word wood as /wʊdə/.

Confuse between /θ/ and /s/

In Mandarin, the sound /θ/ does not exist. Some Chinese people will pronounce /s/ instead of /θ/ because these two sound similar to them. For example, some of them may pronounce the word thin as /sɪn/which is actually the pronunciation of the word sin.

Confuse between /ɪ/and/ iː/

Native Chinese speakers may not aware of this problem when they speak English because the length of a vowel sound will not change the word meaning in Mandarin. However, in English, /lɪv/ and /liːv/ stand for two different words (live and leave), which will totally change the meaning of the information you want to deliver.

Absence of word stress

Native Chinese speakers may have trouble in word stress even though they have learned the language for years because there is no word stress in Mandarin. However, in English, stress on different syllables of a word may have different meaning. For example, if you stress the first syllable of the word present, it can mean now or gift. If you stress the second syllable, it means show or demonstrate.

Recommended Resources

Minimal Pairs Practice 

One way to improve your pronunciation is to practice reading the minimal pairs. A minimal pair refers to two words which differ in only one phoneme such as thin and sin, bin and bean. They are useful for distinguishing different sounds.

Practice with sentences

Here are some sentences for you to improve your pronunciation. You can read some of them each day. Read slowly in the beginning. Increase your speed after pronouncing each word accurately.

1.Something is better than nothing.

2.Father and mother went through thick and thin.

3.There are 33,333 feathers on that birds throat

Check out more sentences from Learners Dictionary by Merriam-Webster.

Practice pronunciation with songs

Songs are authentic spoken English. The rhymes can help you to repeat certain sounds in a entertaining way! Here are some recommended songs for you!

The Lazy Song– Bruno Mars

Thinking Out Loud-Ed Sheeran

American Honey-Lady Antebellum

Practice pronunciation with movies and TV

Movies and TV programs are also useful resources for you to improve your pronunciation. You can repeat the words of those characters and imitate their pronunciation! You can go through your favorite movies or TV shows at weekends or on the subway to school!

Pronunciation is one of the key factors of your speaking skills. Other important factors are fluency and lexical resource. Check out our The IELTS Speaking Test: Fluency and Coherence and Lexical Resource to find more information!


By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Kuangyan

    Kuangyan creates IELTS blogs at Magoosh. She is passionate about language education and has a MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. Kuangyan has experience of teaching English both in China and in US. In her free time, she drinks mocha, does yoga, takes photos and travels to different places to explore the exciting world.

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