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Many people are aware of the fact that the correct pronunciation is a significant part of foreign language skills. Your ability to speak any foreign language with proper pronunciation leads to a good understanding of your speech by a native speaker . On the contrary, it is safe to say that if someone doesn’t strive for a common pronunciation, he or she runs the risk of not being totally understood by native speakers. Certainly, the small phonetic accent is almost always present at the speech of a foreigner, but it`s important that your accent doesn’t cause any communication problems. This is one of the main reasons why the constant work on phonetics has to be done, no matter what level of the Russian language you have.


The sound system of the Russian language has its own peculiarities. This unique system of the language usually causes certain phonetic difficulties to foreign learners. Among these difficulties is the pronouncing of the following sounds:


  • a vowel [ы]
  • a hard consonant [л] ,a soft consonant [л`] and their distinction
  • a sound [ц]
  • distinction of the sounds [ш] and [щ]


Some nationalities can have a greater degree of difficulty in their production of acceptable Russian pronunciation. This is generally explained by the absence of these sounds in their native phonological systems. As an example, the distinction of [б] and [в] seems rather difficult for Spanish-speaking learners. Chinese people encounter difficulties in contrasting the sounds [ф]and[х];[д]and [з].What concerns Portuguese people, they find it hard to produce the sounds [х]and [р] and to distinguish the sounds [т]and [ч].


While working on the course of the Russian phonetics, every student has to learn two main things. Firstly, to hear and differentiate the Russian sounds. Secondly, to pronounce the words correctly paying attention to the word stress and the word rhythmics, then to read sentences and texts. Phonetic dictations just appear to be effective to accomplish the first goal. They are aimed at learning of how to syllabify words and distinct monosyllables. These dictations also help to define disyllabic words, word combinations and complete sentences. Students have to notice these distinctions. For example: ми-мы, мил-мыл, Мила-мыла, Мама мыла Милу мылом.Before you start pronouncing the words, word combinations, sentences and texts, it`s important to have a clear understanding of how to use your vocal organs of speech to make the sound. First of all, a great attention has to be paid to the work of the tongue (its front, middle and back parts) then lips, palate and teeth. For example, when you try to articulate Russian soft consonants, move your tongue a bit forward and keep it relaxed. Hard consonants, on the contrary, move your tongue back and keep it tense.


Make your voice go upwards and downwards pronouncing some of the sounds. For example, the voice goes lower when you pronounce hard consonants. But when it comes to pronouncing soft consonants, the voice rises and a slight sound of [и] must be heard.


As well as any other aspect, working on the Russian phonetics implies step-by step learning, going from the simple to the complex. It means that firstly, we should start with pronouncing of the sounds which can be blended easily and which are phonetically natural for speakers of different languages. Having mastered them, we can go on practicing more complex combinations.


After we have learnt how to produce the sound and to pronounce it in the isolated position, simple syllables and monosyllabic words, we can turn to reading of word combinations, small texts, tongue twisters and poems. It`s also advisable to “sing through” the text.


Students can record their speech into an audio file and then compare their pronunciation to the pronunciation of the native teacher of the Russian language Such tasks help master the sounds which appear to be problematic.


It` s also essential to know how to correctly intone some expressions. For this reason, the students are offered to learn 4 basic intonation patterns or all 7 of them which are daily used in speech of any Russian. The choice of patterns depends on the purpose of a student.


Below are listed some exercises which are aimed at practicing the sounds like [л`], [л] and [ы], which are considered to be the most difficult ones among non-native speakers.


I.Hard consonant [л]:


How to learn to pronounce the Russian hard consonant [л]:


Step 1.Do the exercise which is called “Catch the “Л” sound. For this purpose, smile and say sound “А”. Creating this sound, it`s necessary to bite a wide tip of the tongue. Gradual increasing of the tempo of the articulator movements will allow you to hear the sound “л”.


Step 2.Imagine that you want to push out the teeth from the mouth: push your top incisor teeth by the tongue and say: л-л-л-л


Step 3. Firstly make the sound “ы” so that your tongue is rested against the top alveolar ridge. Increase the tempo, omit the sound “ы” and the sound “л”will be finally heard.


Now look in a mirror and while pronouncing the sound, remember the work of lips and tongue. To correctly pronounce the“л”, you should follow this:


  • make your lips like smiling
  • the tongue tip is up and pressed to the ridge of the high palate
  • the middle part of the tongue goes down
  • the sides of the tongue are lowered
  • the air flows out around the sides of the tongue


Phonetic exercises (for reading and listening):


а) ла-ла-ла-ла-ла

б) класс, глаз, клан, гласный, главный, клавиша, клоп, глобус, клок, хлопать, клуб, глупый, клумба, глух, глубокий, клык, глыба, хлыст, хлынуть


в) у-у-у, лу-лу-лу, лук, Луга, лужа, лупа, лунный


ы-ы-ы, лы, лы, лы, столы, полы, лысый, лыжи, малыш, орлы, плыть


о-о-о, ло-ло-ло, голод, столовая, холод, холодный, потолок, лоб, ложка, волос, голос


а-а-а, халат, скала, ладно, палата, салат


э-э-э, лэ-лэ-лэ, ЛЭТИ, слэнг


г) долго, Волга, слава, полка, вилка, волк, доклад, блокнот, колбаса, мелко, палка, платить, алфавит, плохо, волна


д) Фрол пел. Нил мыл пол. Мул устал. Вол пил воду. Мел бел. Павел всё сказал. Главный инженер сделал доклад. Лариса ела салат. В класс пришёл Павел.


е)молотый кофе, кислое молоко, спелое яблоко, гласный звук, согласный звук, килограмм лука, полосатая блузка, смелый пилот…


ж) Галка села на палку, палка ударила галку.


Карл у Клары украл кораллы, а Клара у Карла украла кларнет (это – скороговорки, их надо произносить очень-очень быстро!)


ll.Soft consonant [л`]:


How to learn to pronounce the Russian soft consonant [л`]:


After you have learnt how to pronounce the sound [л], you will not face any difficulties to make sound [л`]. Stand in front of a mirror. Pronounce the syllable ли-ли-ли and pay attention to your articulation. You will see that lips are a bit spread, like in a smile. Upper and lower teeth are visible and the tongue tip knocks on the upper alveolar ridge. Having achieved the correct pronunciation of the syllable ли, try to practice the syllables ле, ля, лё, лю.


Phonetic exercises (for reading and listening):


1. И-ли-лить-лили-пили-носили-соли, лист, великий, линия, слива, лень, племя, лезь, Лена, слева, лев, поля, земля, Ляля, пляж, Аляска, клятва, Оля, Юля, Поля, Валя, люди, люблю, полёт, клён.


2. лак- ляг, лук-люк, лысый-лисы, плот-лёд, лодка-плётка, из лука-злюка, полка-полька


3. даль-даль, даль-дал, мол- моль, стал-сталь, угол-уголь, футбол-боль, посол-соль, пыл-пыль.


4. Корабли лавировали, лавировали, да не вылавировали. (it is a tongue twister, it should be said very fast!)


ll.Russian sound [ы]:


How to learn to pronounce the Russian vowel [ы]:


Make the sound [и]. Analyze the manner and place of your articulation while pronouncing. You will see that your lips are slightly moved apart as if you are smiling. The tip of your tongue is next to lower teeth and touches them. Your back of the tongue is kept tense and connects the front part of the hard palate. The vocal cords are vibrating. Now try to pull your tongue back so that it makes a rising hillock. If you are unable to do this, try to do the same but with the help of a spoon or a pencil. In this position try to make the sound [ы].


Step 2. Press a pencil in your teeth. Holding the pencil, pronounce the sound [и].


Phonetic exercises (for reading and listening):


а) кы-кы, ксы-ксы, сы-сы, сын, сыт сыр, весы; гы-гы, гды-гды, ды-ды, сады, труды, дыня; хы-хы, хны-хны, ны-ны, сны, у сосны, вкусны; бы-бы, был, забыл, быт, быть, быстро; пы-пы. Супы, пыль; мы-мы, мыло, мысль, мышь; вы-вы, отвык, вышел; фы-фы, шкафы, шарфы


б) шить, спешить, жить, ножи, скажи, концы, огурцы


в) Мой сын. Вот сыр. Из трубы дым. Из Крыма. Вы мыли руки? Вы были у Толи? Мы малыши.


г) брат Иван /братывАн/. Сын и брат /сыныбрАт/. Иду от Иры /атЫры/. Мы были в Испании /выспАнии/.Читать с интересом /сынтирЕсам/.


д) Стихотворения!


Если руки мыли вы,
Если руки мыли мы, 
Если руки вымыл ты, - 
Значит, руки вымыты!

Мама мыла Милу мылом, 
Мила мыло не любила.

г) Русские пословицы и поговорки со звуком [ы] 
Поспешишь – людей насмешишь. 
Цыплят по осени считают. 
Попытка не пытка.


Have fruitful lessons of the Russian language !


If you need a professional support of our highly qualified teacher trainers, you are more than welcome to sign up for the course on our website



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