I worry about my 5-year-old boy's pronunciation of the English "th".
This sound does not exist in the majority language (German) and that makes it hard for him to get it right.
From my days at a German school, I know that the "th" is sort of a challenge. My (German) schoolmates used to say "sis" ("this"), "nossing" ("nothing") and "wors" ("worth"). But it's not the typical "German" mistakes my son makes.
He says for example: "dank you!" ("thank you!") or "nofing" ("nothing") or "free" ("three")
If I ask him to try the "th"-sound he doesn't really know what I want. If I show him he sticks out his tongue between his teeth and makes a "hissing sound" but it just doesn't sound like it should.
Is there anyone else who's got this problem or any ideas how to deal with it?
I have two children in speech therapy to help with the English "S" and "TH" sounds. They are hard, even for many English majority language children. I don't think they have to have the "TH" sound until age 6 or 7, but it is good to start practicing early. Do you have access to a speech language pathologist that can give your son some sessions to work on these difficult sounds? I have been using a speech language pathologist to work with one of my daughters in our minority language and it has been every helpful!
Hi Melissa, Thank you for your reply. I have thought about speech therapy, but my son is very talkative and does all the other sounds very well and I think sending him to speech therapy might feel bad for him!?
But maybe you're right and I need to be a little more patient. He'll start school next summer and they learn English from the very first grade, so maybe that will help too?!
Janice, ask your paediatrician. Here in Germany, the daughter of a friend of mine has a slight problem with "r" in Italian. He said they should wait until 6-7 years old before speech therapy because it is a minor problem. Most of the children eventually manage to make all sounds correctly.
And there is nothing wrong or bad going to a speech therapist ;-) Especially because specialists know how not to make children feel bad for going to therapy...
I (ML German) had problems with the th myself until I was almost 10, although I was otherwise fluent in my ml English. I had used the German pronunciation until then.
My two older ML German children learnt the th when they were 7 or 8. My youngest is still substituting with "f" and "d", which I believe is the way English children pronounce things before they learn the th.
Just wait a bit and then explain how the th is supposed to sound and how to achieve that, and with a bit of practice, things will work out.
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