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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate German Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn the top 5 German pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
These are common mistakes that students of German tend to make. So pay close attention and make sure that you don't make these same mistakes too.
Are you ready? Then let's get started!
Number 1: Pronouncing German words with and English accent.
English and German have many words in common, so the tendency is to pronounce them as it is in one's own language.
Compare a few English words with their German derivatives.
Pretzel - Brezel
Bagel - Bagel
cobalt - cobalt
autobahn - autobahn
The difference is quite obvious.
Be sure to always pronounce words using German consonant and vowel sounds when speaking German. Get out of the habit of pronouncing these words as you would in English. While it may *feel* unnatural to say these words in a different manner than what you're used to, realize that it actually *sounds* more natural to native German listeners.
Number 2: Under-enunciating vowels and final syllables.
While both German and English have vowel reductions of some sort, English is much more laxed than compared to German. This means that many English speakers tend to under-enunciate vowels in a sentence. The same applies to final syllables as well. Take for example...
Ich habe mir heute ein Stück Kuchen gegönnt. (I treated myself with cake today).
Learners of German would often be unclear in these problem areas.
The problem gets worse when an indirect or direct object is involved, as this makes it even more difficult for a listener to understand what it is exactly, you're trying to say.
In meinem Auto habe ich eine Spinne entdeckt. (I discovered a spider in my car)
Ich habe mir einen Koffer gekauft. (I bought a suitcase)
As you can see, both markers for the indirect and the direct object are quite similar. If you do not enunciate the endings clearly, you'll be hard to understand by German speakers.
Number 3: Using the wrong intonation
Students of German often use the incorrect pitch when saying a complete sentence or question.
When you connect phrases leading up to a complete sentence, the endings of each phrase should rise in pitch. It's only at the final phrase of the sentence that the pitch falls if it's a statement.
Take a look at this example.
Marie macht das Fenster zu, denn ihr ist kalt. (Marie is closing the windows, because she feels cold)
Notice how the pitch rises at the end of the first clause, and falls at the end of the sentence?
Würden Sie mir verraten, wie ich zum Bahnhof komme? (How do I get to the train station?)
Once again, the pitch rises at the end of the first clause, but this time, the pitch also rises at the end, since it's a question.
Number 4: Mispronouncing the German R
ʁ (like the r sound in rost or rast)
English speakers typically associate all R-like sounds with some manner of articulation using the tip of the tongue and somewhere in the front part of the mouth.
The German R however, actually comes from the throat, using the back of the mouth.
Listen to a few examples which uses this letter.
Rost (rust)
Rast (break)
rutschen (skid)
We'll take an in-depth look at pronouncing German R sounds in lesson 6.
Number 5: Mispronouncing consonant combinations with the letter S.
When combined with other consonants in German, the letter S typically changes to a sh sound.
When S is paired with a H...
Show (show)
Shareware (shareware)
When S is paired with CH...
Scheck (cheque)
komisch (funny)
Fisch (fish)
When S is paired before a P at the beginning of a word or the first syllable...
Spiel (game)
sprechen (to speak)
When S is paired before a T at the beginning of a word or the first syllable...
Stadt (city)
studieren (to study)
As you can see, there are many instances in which the letter S changes to a sh sound.
We'll cover more of this in lesson 8.
Now you know the top 5 German pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
Try to be careful so that you don't commit these same mistakes. Still feel a bit worried? Over the rest of this series, we'll cover all of these topics in depth.
In the next lesson, we'll start learning vowel sounds in German.
Have you been gulty of any of thesefive mistakes? Have you learned any tricks to deal with them? Let us know in the comments and share them with other students like you!
Stick with us and you'll overcome these quickly!
See you in the next Ultimate German Pronunciation Guide lesson!