One Trick for Pronouncing B, D, G, V, Th Voiced Consonants

One thing I’ve noticed in my time teaching Latino students is that they can often have a hard time pronouncing B, D, G, V, Th voiced consonants.

An example of this would be CLOSE. For beginner students it is understandable that they would say the S in CLOSE as a regular /s/ sound because they do not know any better. The S in Spanish is always a /s/. However, I have listened to enough intermediate and advanced students to know that when they are not pronouncing the /z/ in words, it is not because they do not know better, it’s because they don’t know how.

While many latino students cannot say these voiced consonant sounds, it is a really easy thing to teach. The reason the above consonants are called voiced consonants is because they are created in part by vibrations from your voice box. As well, many of these voiced consonants have cousins who are unvoiced consonants.

What are those?

Those are consonants made without help from vibrations from your voice box.

So, who are the cousins of B, D, G, V, and Th?

P–>B

T–>D

K–>G

F–>V

Th–>Th

If you already know how to properly say the unvoiced P, T, K, F, and Th consonants, you are halfway to making the voiced B, D, G, V, and Th consonants. The only difference these voiced consonants have to their unvoiced cousins is the vibration being added to the air in your voice box as it makes its way to the mouth.

Let’s take a look at some words to see how you can apply this.

We can take a word like POP which has the unvoiced P consonant. By adding vibration to the two P consonants we can transform this word into BOB.

We can take TIT which has the unvoiced T consonant, add some vibration to the 2 T’s and create DID.

A word like KICK has 2 unvoiced K’s. By adding vibration to these two K sounds, we can turn the word into GIG.

FLOG can be turned into VLOG just by adding vibration to the F in FLOG.

As you can see with the above examples, turning on and turning off the vibration in your throat can allow you to dominate sounds that you may be having problems with right now.

You might ask me, “Profe that seems to easy. Isn’t there a tongue change or a special lip movement I need to do to differentiate them?”

Honestly? No.

Try this out. Go to Forvo and find some words that I gave as examples above. Next, record yourself saying these words and compare your recordings with the Forvo recordings. If VLOG sounds like FLOG, try saying FLOG slowly, FFFFFFFFLLLLLOOOOOOGGGGG, and really emphasize creating vibration in your throat while you say the F. FLOG will transform into VLOG, trust me. FFFFFF—(add vibration)—->VVVVVVVLLLLLOOOOGGGG.

Conclusion

Every language will have sounds that are difficult for second language learners to learn. At the same time, some sounds are really not that hard to learn how to do if you learn how to properly say them. My hope is that this small trick will help you master these consonants quickly and easily.

Did you try it out?

Did it work?

Let me know in the comments below.

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