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How to train up my tongue?

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QiuJP
Triglot
Senior Member
Singapore
Joined 5728 days ago

428 posts - 597 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin*, EnglishC2, French
Studies: Czech, GermanB1, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 1 of 10
03 September 2012 at 4:25pm | IP Logged 
One of the most surprising obstacle in my Slavic language studies is actually my
tongue. As you all know, Slavic languages have palatalized consonants that require the
tongue to be placed against or near the hard palate. However, when I try to produce my
speech in Slavic languages (especially Russian), imitating near native speed. I end up
mispronouncing them because my tongue is too slow to each the palate. For example, the
word "мать" (mother). If my tongue is slow, I end up saying "мат" (vulgar language),
but if I place my tongue too early, I end up saying "мять" (to crumple). Furthermore,
after trying to practice my Slavic languages for more than 1 hour, I realized that my
tongue can get very tried and sometimes I could not even taste anything after the
session. It will usually take 2 hours for it to regain the functionality.

I wonder how can I overcome this problem? I believe I am able to do it, since millions
of native Slavic speakers are doing it everyday, but I need some guide.
6 persons have voted this message useful



Majka
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
kofoholici.wordpress
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Speaks: Czech*, German, English
Studies: French
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 2 of 10
03 September 2012 at 4:59pm | IP Logged 
Try to relax. Native speakers (children) have this problem as well, and the way out is a long one.
If I understood you correctly you can produce the sounds when speaking carefully?

You can try exercises for native children. Here are texts for different problems - look for the "Hlásky Ď, Ť, Ň". The advice is to start with one vowel and syllables, then with words and text with the soft consonants only. The switching between soft and hard should be left after you manage the previous exercises.

One hour practice is too long. With concentrated practice for the problem sounds, I wouldn't go over 5 or 10 minutes. Ideally, you would do the exercises for 2-5 minutes several times per day.

Several weeks or even months are considered normal when teaching Czech children correct pronunciation.
3 persons have voted this message useful



LaughingChimp
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 4572 days ago

346 posts - 594 votes 
Speaks: Czech*

 
 Message 3 of 10
03 September 2012 at 6:11pm | IP Logged 
I don't know, perhaps you are trying to pronounce them wrong? I remember I had similar problem with the ng sound, I was unable to pronounce it fully nasalized. It turned out I'm trying to pronounce it too far back in the mouth.

Majka: Czech Ď Ť Ň are different sounds, they are palatal, not palatalized. BTW, the description of Ř on that page is obsolete for most Czech dialects.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
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20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 4 of 10
03 September 2012 at 7:25pm | IP Logged 
I don't know how (or even if) I've managed to get around palatalization as Polish and Hungarian show the phenomenon even though Russian's palatalization is different.

In my case I approach learning the pronunciation of any foreign language as involving practice via much interaction with native speakers with some independent practice via passive shadowing with a course's dialogues and audio. In my case, I also seek out courses that have at least some drills in the FSI style because I've found them helpful for improving my pronunciation. After a while I seemed to have got my pronunciation to a level such that whatever mistakes or non-native elements in my speech are perceptible, the natives don't care about them and seem more keen on carrying on at native pace with me. At this point the bigger problem doesn't seem to be that I make unforgivable errors in prosody as much as my vocabulary is too small for my liking and I'm more often left grasping for words when conversing.

I've never used palatlization exercises for Russian so I can't vouch for the following, however the following could be useful if you just want to practice in very short bursts (I agree with Majka: don't overdo the practicing, you'll just wear yourself out. I can't do more than about 20 minutes worth of drills from FSI or DLI in one sitting and I need to take a break for at least 10 minutes afterwards)

Soft consonants
Голоса 1, Алфавит. Hard and Soft Consonants

I guess that you could also try the exercises in FSI Russian FAST. Look at the sections on pp. 35-38 and listen to Tape 1 (fast forward to 25:23 or 29:05 for the material on hard and soft consonants)
3 persons have voted this message useful



Bjorn
Diglot
Senior Member
Norway
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 Message 5 of 10
03 September 2012 at 10:19pm | IP Logged 
Chung: Sorry to ask, but what is passive shadowing?
1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 7029 days ago

4228 posts - 8259 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 6 of 10
03 September 2012 at 11:06pm | IP Logged 
From what I understand of shadowing, I'm supposed to do it while walking around - something about boosting oxygen intake and raising my alertness to my target language.

On the other hand, I'm a pretty lazy guy and so I take the easy way out by doing passive or watered-down shadowing in planting my ass on the seat at my desk or in a bus with my MP3 player and textbook.
5 persons have voted this message useful



Bjorn
Diglot
Senior Member
Norway
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244 posts - 286 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English
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 Message 7 of 10
04 September 2012 at 1:45am | IP Logged 
Chung: haha, thanks. Now I know I'm a passive shadower.
1 person has voted this message useful



QiuJP
Triglot
Senior Member
Singapore
Joined 5728 days ago

428 posts - 597 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin*, EnglishC2, French
Studies: Czech, GermanB1, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 8 of 10
04 September 2012 at 5:18pm | IP Logged 
Majka wrote:
Try to relax. Native speakers (children) have this problem as well, and
the way out is a long one.
If I understood you correctly you can produce the sounds when speaking carefully?

You can try exercises for native children. stazeni.html">Here are texts for different problems - look for the "Hlásky Ď, Ť,
Ň". The advice is to start with one vowel and syllables, then with words and text with
the soft consonants only. The switching between soft and hard should be left after you
manage the previous exercises.

One hour practice is too long. With concentrated practice for the problem sounds, I
wouldn't go over 5 or 10 minutes. Ideally, you would do the exercises for 2-5 minutes
several times per day.

Several weeks or even months are considered normal when teaching Czech children correct
pronunciation.


Yes, I am able to produce correct sounds when speaking slowly. Currently, I have two
Russian resources which have the drills that are similar to the Czech link you have
given. They are Modern Russian 1 & 2 and Дорога в Россию 1-3. Maybe I can do the drills
on them, together with the Czech resource link?

I will break my oral practice session into several segments no longer than 10 minutes
and try it out.

Sidenote: Are Assimil programs suitable for practice? The audio is way slower than
those resources mentioned here.


1 person has voted this message useful



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