Va Va Black Sheep – difficult sounds for Japanese learners of English

The ‘v’ sound is perhaps one of the hardest sounds for my Japanese learners of English to master. It doesn’t exist in the Japanese language. And it is approximated with the ‘b’ phoneme.

Recent research has found that if the sound ‘va’ is matched with a video showing another sound made in the similar region like ‘ba’ the visual cues overrides auditory cue to register the “visual” sound. This is, according to the paper’s authors, a confirmation of the McGurk Effect which until now could not be explained.

So my students obviously haven’t been paying attention to my lips. It doesn’t help that I have forty students to teach which is why I use my iPhone camera and projector to show them how I am producing the ‘v’ and ‘b’ sounds. Now if only I can figure out how to show them the how I produce the ‘r’ and ‘l’ sounds which are produced in the back of my mouth!

Is there such a thing as a camera which fits into my mouth? Are they called MouthCams? On second thought, gross.

3 thoughts on “Va Va Black Sheep – difficult sounds for Japanese learners of English

  1. How to listen without ears – Warren M Tang

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