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  • You may have learned that this is what you need to do for the TH sound.

  • Here I’m saying the phrasebad weatherand I’ve frozen my mouth on TH.

  • This is the position of the TH sometimes,

  • but there are a lot of very common words where native speakers do a little bit of a shortcut for the TH.

  • It all relates to stress.

  • In this video youre going to learn that shortcut, the right way to make a TH.

  • I love this: were studying a sound,

  • but at the same time were studying stress, the foundation of American English.

  • First, let’s talk about the full TH position.

  • This is the one youve been taught as a student, but my students still really struggle with this sound.

  • That can happen for a couple of reasons.

  • One, they stick too much of their tongue out.

  • Look, it’s not that much, it’s just the very tip.

  • Two, they block the air with their tongue.

  • Th. Th. Th.

  • That turns this into a stop consonant, it’s not a stop consonant.

  • The air flows freely.

  • You should be able to hold it continuously with no stopped air, no pressure.

  • Just try that with me now.

  • See how the teeth are just very lightly touching the tongue.

  • You don’t want to press the teeth into the tongue.

  • So these are the mistakes my students make when trying to make a TH sound.

  • The other biggest problem is they simply don’t make it.

  • They make an S sound, or a T.

  • What do you sink?

  • Or what do you tink?

  • then with the voiced TH they make a D sound:

  • dis is mine, or a Z sound, zis is mine.

  • That’s not a huge problem.

  • In most cases, it won’t mess up people understanding you.

  • But if a lot of your sounds are inaccurate

  • and your rhythm isn’t American,

  • it can start to be hard to understand someone.

  • So it is worth taking the time to learn these new sounds that you don’t have in your native language.

  • Let’s look at three words with a TH at the beginning, middle, and end.

  • First, the word thin.

  • This TH is unvoiced, that means it’s made with just the air, no vibration of the vocal cords.

  • TH.

  • Thin, thin.

  • Watch this. Youll see it in slow motion. Youll see it twice, then a third time with no sound.

  • You say it, slowly, just like youve seen.

  • Thin.

  • Now a word with a TH in the middle, 'although'.

  • Here the TH is voiced.

  • That means it’s not just air,

  • but vocal vibration as well,

  • Although, the tongue position is the same.

  • Although

  • Let’s take a look at this word. Youll see it twice, hear it twice, study it.

  • Then youll see it one more time with no sound, you say it out loud that time.

  • Say it slowly, although.

  • And now a word with the TH at the end.

  • This is both.

  • What TH is that, voiced or unvoiced?

  • Both, thh.

  • That’s unvoiced.

  • Youll see and hear it two times, the third time you say it, slowly, both.

  • Both

  • Great

  • Now let’s talk about that shortcut.

  • Sometimes the tongue tip doesn’t come all the way through the teeth.

  • Let me show you what I mean.

  • Were going to study a phrase, It’s better than I thought.

  • So we have two TH’s there.

  • One in the wordthan’, and the one in the wordthought’.

  • It’s better than I thought.

  • When I do that phrase, which words are the most stressed?

  • Which are the most clear to you?

  • It’s better than I thought.

  • It’s better than I thought.

  • Betterandthoughtare stressed.

  • That means the wordthanis unstressed.

  • Than is unstressed and it begins with a voiced TH.

  • In this case we can do the tongue shortcut. Let’s see.

  • I’ve just started the wordthan’.

  • Look at the tongue position.

  • It’s different than what weve been seeing.

  • The tip isn’t out.

  • Where is it?

  • It’s actually behind the teeth.

  • The very tip is touching the backs of the teeth.

  • It doesn’t sound like a D because were not putting pressure against the roof of the mouth.

  • Let’s keep going.

  • Here is the TH in THOUGHT.

  • This TH is unvoiced, and the tongue tip always has to come through for an unvoiced TH.

  • Plus, this word is stressed.

  • Let’s watch the whole phrase again.

  • TH in than, tongue tip not coming through.

  • TH in thought, tongue tip coming through.

  • There are a lot of really common words that will usually be unstressed,

  • that begin with a voiced TH.

  • You can do this shortcut on those words.

  • 'Than' is one of them. It's pronounced: than, than.

  • Notice in the phrase the vowel is reduced: it’s not THAN.

  • A common English reduction.

  • Let’s practice just the three words

  • better than I’.

  • Better than I.

  • Better than I.

  • Than, unstressed, than.

  • Better than-- Better than I. Better than I.

  • Simplifying the TH in the word THAN doing our shortcut

  • helps us get through these unstressed and an important syllables more quickly

  • which is what we want.

  • That is the rhythm of American English, and it's foundation, it's so important.

  • Simplifying the unstressed words helps us say them more quickly,

  • provides better contrast to a longer, stressed syllables.

  • Actually, this reminds me of an email I just got last night from someone in my Academy.

  • Here’s what she said let me go get it:

  • It was nothing like I expected and to be honest I was so upset to start with such basic stuff.

  • Ugh!

  • A million negative thoughts went through my head as I did imitation.

  • Long story short, I was shocked at how much I needed the basics.

  • YOUR ACADEMY IS FREAKING AWESOME! LOL

  • The thing I told her is that I’m addressing stress with my students

  • with both the biggest accent struggles and also my most advanced students.

  • It matters for everyone.

  • Knowing this simplification of the TH and tying it to stress is going to help you sound more natural.

  • She goes on to say:

  • As important as communication is

  • I think my biggest achievement so far is how much more confident I feel.

  • That confidence spills into every aspect of my life.

  • Not to be sappy and corny but words fail to convey my heartfelt gratitude.

  • Carol Ann, thank you so much.

  • I got this late last night when I was working.

  • An idiom we can use for this isburning the midnight oil,’ working late.

  • And it gave me a pick-me-up when I needed it.

  • Sobetter than I’ is BE-tter-than-I.

  • Than, than, than, than, than

  • with that simplified TH.

  • You try it.

  • Just try the unstressed syllables.

  • Better than I.

  • ter-than-I

  • Let your face completely relax.

  • ter-than-I

  • Now well see the phrase again three times.

  • Youll hear the audio all three times,

  • but do repeat out loud the third time with me, in slow motion.

  • Now let’s do it’s worse than I thought.

  • Here again you can see the tongue position for the TH is not through the teeth.

  • The tip is just behind the teeth.

  • This simplified TH helps me make the sound faster.

  • It’s not a D, it’s not pushing against the roof of my mouth.

  • It’s pressing the backs of the teeth.

  • Worse than, worse than.

  • and now here is the full position for the TH inthought’.

  • Worse than I.

  • Worse than I

  • than I, than I, than I

  • than I thought.

  • Try justthan I’ with me.

  • Than I , than I.

  • Simple.

  • It’s worse than I thought.

  • It’s worse than I thought.

  • Hear that stress.

  • Feel it. Worse and thought are stressed, longer, up-down shape: than I-- than I-- than I--

  • These two words are flatter in pitch, said more quickly.

  • More simply.

  • Than I, than I.

  • Now well see the phrase again three times.

  • Youll hear the audio all three times, but do repeat out loud the third time with me, in slow motion.

  • What do you think?

  • Is this simplified TH starting to make more sense?

  • Let’s study one more sentence with the wordthan

  • The phrase is “I thought it would be easier than this.”

  • Three TH’s.