Profesor Rias van den Doel was educated at Utrecht University and Trinity College Dublin, and has taught English to university students in the Netherlands, Spain, Poland and China. He is now affiliated to Utrecht University, where he runs courses in pronunciation training, intercultural communication and World Englishes. His chief research interest is English linguistic diversity and its consequences for L2 acquisition.
How do Europeans think the th-sounds should be pronounced? (45 mins)
Many users of English struggle with the th-sounds in “think” and “that”. If it is true that these sounds do not occur in all native varieties of English, it could be argued that they are therefore unnecessary and should no longer be taught in the ELT classroom. Arguably, this would help those non-native speakers whose languages do not feature these sounds. Since this is true of most European languages (but not all), it could even be argued that these sounds are completely redundant in communication between European non-native speakers of English. However, it should first be investigated if all Europeans agree on the relative insignificance of these sounds. Is there a difference between speakers of Greek and Spanish, whose languages feature th-sounds, and speakers of Polish and Dutch, where these do not exist? And is the th-sound in “think” as unimportant as the th-sound in “that”? These questions will be addressed in this presentation.
(based on research by R. van den Doel, A.F. Pinget and H. Quene)