Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Pronouncing 'Th'

Type: Anecdote

The 'th' sound appears to cause problems for one of Brian O'Flaherty's students


David was a retired civil engineer in his 70s living in Auckland, New Zealand. Short and outspoken in his high-pitched tones, he was one of a group of similarly over-qualified, Mandarin-speaking retirees.

New to this class, I discovered in quick time that several students were afflicted with that well-known virus which transforms 'th' to 'd'. Corrective therapy was in order.

'Come on guys,' (at 60 I regard senior citizens as my compatriots) 'it's not hard. Just place the tongue between the teeth and expel a little air ...'

'Here you go David - one more try - the thief threw the-'

David had no patience with this.

'I know how to say 'th',' he protested in his high baritone.'I can do dis! But if I put my tongue between my teet, dey are false, dey will fall out!'

OK David, you win...'d' will be fine. But what kind of advertisement is this for Chinese 'thentistry'?!

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