When starting to learn English, a good place to focus on is studying phonetics – intonation, pronunciation, and English sounds. Mastering these items can enable you to communicate easily with others. But if you can’t distinguish between intonation and sound variations in English, you’ll be unable to understand native English speakers.
In this blog, we’re going to talk about the /S/ sound and all the rules related to pronouncing it like a native English speaker. Keep in mind that words in English language sometimes don’t sound like they are spelled. Hence, this can make you fail to recognise the /S/ sound when a native English speaker says it.
It’s worth noting that the /S/ sound is not restricted to the letter ‘S.’ In some instances, the letter ‘C’ can also make the /S/ sound. Similarly, words that end with the letter ‘S’ are usually pronounced like ‘Z.’ Therefore, our goal is to help fix and improve your pronunciation mistakes to help you sound more natural like a native speaker.
The /S/ Sound Pronunciation
To produce the /S/ sound, position the tip of your tongue against the alveolar ridge (roof of the mouth) behind your upper teeth without touching your teeth. Breathe out to let the air between the top of your mouth and the tip of your tongue escape your mouth. You should allow free air flow between your teeth as they come in contact with each other and the sides of the tongue.
Let your front teeth touch each other smoothly. You should produce a hissing sound in the process. However, your vocal cords should not vibrate as you make the /S/ sound. Subsequently, it’s important to ensure that air is not trapped in the mouth; otherwise, you will end up making the /TH/ sound.
Usually, when we make the /S/ sound, we tend to reduce the sound of the next consonants and vowels. Here are a few common words that consist of /S/. We encourage you to read and repeat them until you become comfortable with them: Stop, Slip, Stocks, Speak, Stand.
Try and pronounce each of these words with an increased speed with less emphasis on the second letter after ‘S.’ After repeating these words severally, you’ll notice that the consonants after ‘S’ are reduced. However, the point here is not to eliminate these consonants but to reduce the effort put into producing this sound.
Contact a Speech Language Pathologist
The tips provided above should help you pronounce the /S/ sound like a native speakers. However, if you can’t still achieve the accuracy desired, consider seeking professional help. The speech therapists at Pronunciation School are ready to help you improve your English pronunciation so you can become confident in your speech.
We’ll help you learn how to pronounce voiced sounds and voiceless sounds to help you communicate fluently and understand what native English speakers say. Schedule a free accent modification assessment with Pronunciation School to get started.