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    #1

    I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    I've had this problem all my life, and I hate it. It's an embarrassment for me. I'm now 14, and I think I've had enough... can someone please help me? When I usually say "sh" or "ch" I blow the air out of the right side of my mouth, even around my teeth, creating a slushy sound. Mostly, I want to know how I need to position my tongue to direct the air flow in the correct direction. Thank you for saving me!

    (The rest of the description is just advice how much it sucks, so if you're in speech therapy, WORK ON YOUR SOUNDS. You will regret it deeply later!)
    Like I said before, I've had this problem for all of my life. When I was younger, I didn't really care, which now seems like heaven. I'm embarrassed to say the "sh" and "ch" sounds. I don't really know why, though. I always flinch whenever I hear those sounds being said wrong. My worst nightmare is reading aloud in class. What's even worse is that I hide that I have this problem from everyone I know, except for my family. I'm deeply involved in music, and during a rehearsal for the pit orchestra for the school play, the director asked me what note I had, and it was G sharp (I also have trouble with the soft "g" sound, such as in generous). It was really embarrassing for me, and everyone looked at me because they never imagined I would have something like that. Honestly, I would rather have anything but this. I have an entire new vocabulary which I use instead of words that have the sounds I can't make correctly. However, there are some that are inevitable, and those are truly a living hell. In speech class in elementary school, I always blew off my homework and never practiced my sounds, because I didn't really care what I sounded like then. I deeply, deeply regret it now. I hate myself, and every time I say one of the sounds my face gets red and I just want to hide from everyone, and never, ever see them again. I'm sorry if I'm just rambling but it feels really good to just get all of this out right now. It's something I've been keeping a secret for my entire life, and I just needed to tell someone, even if it was the internet, about this. In English class we are reading Romeo and Juliet, and we have to read out loud, so after this I'm going to send an email to my teacher to explain to her my problem, since I couldn't get up the courage during class. I'd do any amount of extra work over reading all of those "shall"s out loud. Also, there's this girl that I like in that class, and I've been working up my courage to say something to her, and I'm so worried that this'll ruin my chances. I've always been extremely introverted and quiet, and I've only had one girlfriend up until now. I think that most of the reason I'm so introverted and quiet is because of my problem. It's forced me to keep my mouth shut, even when I have a good idea that'll benefit what my group is doing. I think that if I could say all my sounds right it would really boost my confidence and get me out of this shell. Sometimes I hate myself so much, and whenever I think of a time when I had to say one of sounds I just cringe am instantly put in a bad mood. I really despise it. Someone, please help, you will be my hero!!! I really, REALLY hate this so someone put an end to it! I beg of you! I hope it doesn't sound like I'm just trying to be dramatic, by the way. I don't know how to express myself otherwise. Thank you so, so much for helping me out! I don't think you know how much it means to me.

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    #2

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    When I say sh, I press the middle part of my tongue upwards against the top of my mouth. When I say ch, I press the front of my tongue against the top of my mouth. In both cases, the corners of my lips are closed.

    I would email your teacher and let her know you have a difficulty, but you have to stop hating yourself. The more you do this, the more the problem will grow inside you. The more you try to conceal it from people, the bigger it will seem to you when they find out. And these things often seem bigger than they are. I have always struggled with the mechanics of writing- I cannot hold a pen properly or write clearly, which caused me a lot of trouble at school, though I only use capital letters nowadays. Now I couldn't care less. Some people do things a little differently. Some people cannot pronounce the letter r, other have lisps. It may be a bit embarrassing the first time people hear it, but you should not let it dominate your life. It really is more about what you say than the way you say it- if the group will benefit from what you have to say, then say it.

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    #3

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    I've found that when I try to press the middle of my tongue up against the roof of my mouth, it blocks the air flow and forces it underneath my tongue. Is this how it's supposed to be? Sometimes, it'll completely block the air from escaping at all. Also, do the sides of my tongue touch the underside of my teeth, or the sides of them? Thanks.

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    #4

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    When I say sh, there is airflow over my tongue. My tongue either misses my teeth or touches the top of the inside edge only.

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    Ugh. That sounds maddening. Is there a reason why you blow out of the side of your mouth? Or is it just a habit? You're right, that will make a slushy sound.

    Some native English speakers do that, too. In fact, I have a friend who's very successful in politics and also owns and manages several profitable businesses who has the same habit. (And it doesn't seem to bother him!)

    If you can, keep the sides of your tongue against your teeth or gums on both sides and just let air pass over the top of your tongue.

    Does that work? If it does, practice.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #6

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    I still don't quite get it. I've recorded myself saying the "sh" sound and it has a bit of a whistle to it, which I don't know how to get rid of. I do know how to say the "s" sound, and a lot of people are saying that "sh" is the same as "s", but the only difference is that your lips are in a different shape. Is this true?
    Last edited by musicguy11; 03-Apr-2015 at 06:20.

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    #7

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    My tongue is slightly further forwards when I say s.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: I need help pronouncing the "sh" and "ch" sounds!

    Quote Originally Posted by musicguy11 View Post
    I still don't quite get it. I've recorded myself saying the "sh" sound and it has a bit of a whistle to it, which I don't know how to get rid of. I do know how to say the "s" sound, and a lot of people are saying that "sh" is the same as "s", but the only difference is that your lips are in a different shape. Is this true?
    No. The lips don't matter. For both sounds, the lips just have to be open. Their shape doesn't matter.

    The difference is that the tongue changes.

    To make an S, you put the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth and blow over it, and to make an SH, you flatten your tongue so it's up under the roof of your mouth and blow over it.

    In both S and SH, keep the sides of your tongue against your teeth or gums so no air goes around the sides of it.

    A speech therapist can show you exactly how it's done.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 04-Apr-2015 at 21:19.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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