Tips to Arabic students to improve English pronunciation


I have published a series of blog posts covering this topic (phonetics and pronunciation), and this text will be their abstract specifically for improving English pronunciation among Arabic speakers.

The English have dimensions for Arabic students:

The shape of the letter is the "drawing" used in writing, unlike Arabic, because the form of the letter in Arabic varies according to the letter's location in the word.

1 - Letter name

Besides learning the sound of each letter, you have to recognize its form. In other words, you have to identify the letter L and the letter "I" and do not confuse them. This is what interests us here and is the basis of phonetics.

2 - The sounds of the letter

The sounds of letters in English are not easy, not like Arabic, as some letters have more than one sound, for example, the letter (C) has two sounds, the first is the sound (S) as in the word (City) and the second is the sound (K) as in Car, and that's the first point that makes it a little tricky.

3 - Connected speech, diphthong, and digraph

To understand what connected speech is, you can think about when a native English speaker talks fast. You will notice that the sounds that it makes will not be exactly as the written form. That would be the absence of sounds in some cases and new sounds we were added. It is important to notice an underlying feature occurring in the background of the diphthong and the digraph, which are phonetic manifestations in this spoken in English.

The other thing is that there are alliances between the letters. What does that mean? It means that two letters ally themselves and come together to make one sound. So, for example, when the letter (S) meets the letter (H), they become (sh), then this alliance makes one sound, which is the sound (sh) as in the word (She), while in the Arabic language, there is no such equivalent system.

The story of the letters and how they are pronounced is related to (reading), while phonetics focuses on (the exits of letters), how the sound is produced. So, for example, you can make this sound (the sound of the letter u in Arabic).

Why Arabic should learn English using Phonetics and Phonology?

You have to move your tongue and mouth to release the air in a certain way so that your mouth makes this sound exactly. But because you are an Arabic speaker and have a sound (sh) in your mother tongue, you do not need to learn that because you can already produce this sound.

So, there are familiar sounds between languages, so what is the use of phonetics? The answer is because there are sounds that exist in languages ​​and not others.

For example, the sound of the letter (z) we have in Arabic, this sound is almost distinct and does not exist in other languages, there is no such sound in English (focus: we talk about sounds and not letters), and because the English speaker does not have this sound in his mother tongue, it is difficult for his mouth his tongue can produce this sound unless he knows and gets used to it, and this is the primary function of phonetics.

Just as there are sounds that exist in Arabic and do not exist in English, there are also - sounds in English that do not exist in Arabic, such as the sound of the letter (P) or the sound of the letter (v), and if these two sounds are what made it easy for you to take them out.

It may be difficult for you to produce the sound of the letter (R) as it should, which - by the way - does not match the sound of the letter (R) we have in Arabic. Therefore you need phonetics to learn how to twist your tongue inside your mouth to make this sound appear as it should.

The importance of phonetic symbols

So what are the phonemes? Why do we not have Arabic phonetic symbols?

In the Arabic language, there is compatibility and harmony between writing and pronunciation. Each letter has one main sound and three branches that arise from diacritics above the letters.

There are clear rules, but in English, as we mentioned earlier, one letter may have more than one sound. Sometimes. Sometimes it may have four or five sounds that differ from one word to another (this happens with vowels). So a new writing style has been created to clarify the pronunciation of the words that are not written.

Simple examples:

The sound made by the letter (C) in the word (Car) is denoted by this symbol /k/.

But the sound made by the letter (C) in the word (City) is denoted by this symbol /s/

The word (Car) is phonetically written this way /kɑːr/, so there are two ways to write the word, the first is by writing the regular alphabet (Car) and the second by phonetic symbols (/kɑːr/) which, as you have noticed, is enclosed in slashes (//).

Of course, the representation of words through phonetic symbols is not present in us in Arabic, and therefore the form of writing represents its sound.

By seeing the word and it is problematic, you can pronounce it precisely and correctly, but in the English language, it is sometimes difficult to pronounce the word precisely if you see it for the first time.

If you haven't heard it before, then the old unitary way to pronounce words correctly is to check their phonetic symbol through those dictionaries that give you the translation and the method of pronunciation.

Now, this is no longer important with talking dictionaries, where you can listen to the pronunciation of a word without worrying about phonemes.

However, learning phonetics and knowing at least some of these symbols remains useful for those who want to master English pronunciation and improve their accent. Because the science of phonetics - as we mentioned previously - is related to extracting sounds from the mouth.

You may listen to the pronunciation of a specific word, but when you pronounce it yourself, you find that there is a difference between your voice and the original sound.

You try again and again, but you cannot master the sound output (pronunciation). This is because there are some sounds that you are not accustomed to in your Arabic tongue, and the solution is to learn phonetics and train your mouth on them.

What is an IPA?

It is a symbol for the phrase (International Phonetic Alphabet), which is the most famous system for writing phonetic symbols, which you find in almost all dictionaries. k), but there are also symbols that you may find strange and not like any alphabet you know, such as the /æ/ symbol, which expresses a sound similar to the tidal sound we have in Arabic (as in the word bat).

The (IPA) system is a global system used with all languages ​​(not just English), and it contains many symbols that may not be found in English.

You can look at the map of symbols and sounds and listen to their wonders via the Interactive IPA Chart to know. For example, there are many sounds that the human mouth can make, such as clicking sounds, murmurs, and other amazing acoustic wonders.

We presented this course in a slightly different way from the rest. It is not based on sounds, and lessons are based on them, but rather on the alphabet.

Through letters, we touch on sounds and phonetic symbols and explain them in an easy way related to the letters themselves, and this - in our opinion - is easier for the ordinary learner.

Below is a list of the lessons for this course with a brief for each task, or you can go directly to the list of lessons.

Discover letters and their sounds

We published the first lesson in this course by discovering the English language sounds that we do not have in the Arabic language. (B), why do we worry about learning how this sound comes out and what its phoneme symbol is?

The first video is a quick pass on all the letters of the English language, and each letter is familiar with the sound or the sounds that it produces. And we train our tongues and our mouth to make the sound as it should.

When two Letters form a new sound

In the previous lesson, we touched on the sounds of each letter (it may be one or more sounds), but here we will learn the opposite when two letters come together, allying to produce one sound.

In the lesson, we touched on the most important of those "alliances" that take place between consonants (Consonant Letters), as for those that take place between the vowels (Vowel Letters), we have postponed them because we will talk about them - separately - in the vowel lessons.

The Sounds of the Letter A

The letter (A) and what sounds accompany it most often when it comes in the word were touched upon. Five sounds were discussed, and their symbols were identified, namely (æ), (ɑ), (ɔ) and (eɪ), as well as the sound of Shwa. (ə)


Learning a second language is challenging for everyone, especially those who do not share the same written system. Because those students have to acquire their perception of the sound of the English language using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), moreover with practice, everyone can master the tricky sounds, and they can speak English fluently and with a Louisiana accent.

Remember to enjoy the process because a challenge will be much more complicated than there is without that.