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The TH Quandary

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I teach students of all ages in Shanghai, China and have found that most have a difficult time pronouncing "th" correctly. I was puzzled as to how to provide a fun way for them to practice that digraph. Then, inspiration hit...a tongue twister. Now, with every new class I teach (I teach at 4 different schools; classes are constantly being added), I work this tongue twister, and the correct practice it requires, into the first few sessions. First, I have the students stick out their tongue. This usually invites a few chuckles as the students realize I'm not kidding because I've stuck my tongue out at them. Then I have them bite their tongue. More laughs as the jokers of the class do their joking. Then, I have them practice correctly pronouncing "th" as I wander and listen, correcting as necessary. Finally, I say the tongue twister as fast as possible. This gets their attention again and I then introduce it to them, more slowly. "These things that these things think, they're the things that these things think." I have the students practice a bit individually, then recite to a partner, and write it down. This is usually just the first 15-20 minutes of a class about correct pronunciation, but I've found that the students remember their "th"'s better...especially when their "homework" assignment is to practice the sentence and be able to correctly pronounce it for the next class. Hope it works for you!

Jennifer Gregory
Shanghai, China

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