Here, we introduce the /S/ sound and all the rules around pronouncing it like Native English speakers. Remember, we are not going to focus on pronouncing sounds ‘correctly’ but easily, lazily, effortlessly like Native English speakers.
The first thing to note here is that the /S/ sound is not limited to the letter S. Sometimes the letter C can also produce the /S/ sound. Another example is the word ‘Pronunciation’.
The second thing to note is how to make the /S/ sound, also known as hissing. You must allow smooth airflow between your teeth as they are touching each other, with your tongue hovering just behind them. Imagine you are biting something, allow the front of your teeth to naturally touch each other. Make sure your lips are parted slightly so that there is room for uninterrupted airflow. It is very important that nothing blocks the air flow, especially the tongue or else it will sound like /TH/ and people may think you have a lisp.
The /S/ sound is strong. When we make this sound, we reduce the sound of the following vowels and consonants (especially consonants). Take a look at the words: Stand, Stop, Speak, Skid. Try and read them with the least possible emphasis on the letters after S. Say them really fast and it will sound a little like this: Sand, Sop, Seak, Sid.
However, we don’t want to completely eliminate the consonant after the S, we only want to reduce the amount of effort we put into making those sounds so that the /S/ is more powerful.
The /S/ sound also recognised as ‘hissing’, is one of the major keys to speaking like a Native English speaker.
If you want to be more confident with pronouncing this sound, schedule yourself in to train with our accent coach.