The Importance of Teaching your Kids the Proper Pronunciation of Words

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One thing that I have noticed, which is scary and unfortunate is that many public school teachers who are teaching children the English language today are mispronouncing words! Because of that, kids are learning the wrong way of saying certain words, which actually can hurt them later in life. For instance, if half the words they are using at job interviews are mispronounced- that will appear far from impressive. The odds of them getting a job will be even less as a result.

That being said, if these teachers are putting less of an effort in when it comes to teaching kids proper pronunciation- then it is up to the parents to make sure they are correcting their mistakes. It’s an unfortunate fact that parents need to be in a position to correct teachers at all, however it is what it is. When it comes to kids with autism, ADHD or other special needs who are receiving speech and language therapy, there is less of a concern regarding this issue. Speech and language therapists will (hopefully anyway) put in the effort to make sure the words they are teaching these kids are pronounced properly. However, most public school teachers definitely don’t put in the time and effort to make sure kids are saying words the right way! I was horrified when my daughter at age 4 looked at the map of the world and said “Ay-see-a” while pointing at the continent of Asia! Her teacher who spoke English quite well called it “Ay-see-a”. Wow, I was not happy- and immediately told my daughter how it was really pronounced. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a master of the English language by any means. In fact it was one of my worst subjects at school. My grammar and spelling are not always perfect. However I do my best to make sure I am saying words the way they are meant to be said. So let me take this opportunity to create a list of a few other words your kids (or even you!) may not be pronouncing properly. Let’s have a bit of fun with this at the same time.

Comfortable– This word is supposed to be said as com-fort-able, not comf-ter-ble.
Athlete– OK my daughter and many others have said this word as ath-a-lete, and it is supposed to be ath-lete, like the way it is spelled! It is a 2- syllable word.
Across– I have heard this one spoken as a-crost. No, it is a-cross.
Surgeon– I remember pronouncing this word one time as sur-gent and heard other kids say it that way too. It is pronounced as sur-gen.
February– I get it, this one is more tricky even for adults. I get tongue tied with this one. As I know, saying Feb-u-ary is so easy however the proper pronunciation is Feb-roo-airy.
Library– You are not going to the libe-air-ee, you are going to the libe-rare-ee to take out a book.
Probably– If you are saying prob-lee, you are saying it wrong, it is supposed to be prob-ab-lee.
Supposedly– Many people get this one wrong too, and say sup-pose-ab-ly, and it is really sup-pose-ed-ly. There is no “b”, just a “d”.
Antarctica– Oh boy, don’t even get me started on this one. I love it how so many say “Anardikka”, and the scary thing is, teachers are definitely pronouncing the name of that continent that way. It is supposed to be Ant-ark-ti-ka. At the same token don’t say ar-tic, it is ark-tik.
Often– The “t” is actually silent, but many people don’t think so. It is not pronounced the way it is spelled. This word is pronounced as off-en.
Nuclear– This is another one that many get wrong. Many people say nuke-yoo-lar, and it is really nuke-lee-ar.
Ask– There is no “ax” in ASK, and definitely don’t say it that way! Be sure to say it the way it is spelled.
Picture– You are not going to take a pitch-er, you are going to take a pic-shur or pic-tchur instead.
Ambulence– I didn’t see an amb-el-enss on the road but I did see the am-byoo-lenss zoom by.
Wednesday– That “d” is silent, and don’t call it Wed-nes-day. It is supposed to be Wens-day.

These are just 15 out of millions of words that people and teachers are mispronouncing. And parents, if you have been mispronouncing any of these words too- now is the time to correct yourselves, especially for the sake of your kids. I also welcome you to add other words that are not listed here in the comments section that you know are commonly mispronounced.

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Written by Miriam Slozberg

Miriam Slozberg

Miriam Slozberg is an author, mom, blogger, depression advocate and social media consultant. Connect with her on the social media links below.

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12 Responses to The Importance of Teaching your Kids the Proper Pronunciation of Words

  1. Laurel Regan January 20, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

    Great list! There are definitely some of my pet peeves on there, especially athlete and nuclear. The other one I’m reminded of is realtor – NOT real-a-tor! Thanks for this helpful post.
    Laurel Regan recently posted…Tangled Tuesday No. 37My Profile

    • Miriam Slozberg January 20, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      Realtor! Thank you, yes that is a common one too! Thanks for the comment.

  2. Kassy January 20, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    My son is 2.5 so we are right in the thick of pronunciations. I have noticed that breaking down each syllable and then putting them together helps tremendously!

    He is actually really doing great with his pronunciations and clearly says pterodactyl! 🙂

    One of the words that always gets me… wash… some people pronounce it “warsh”. Nope no “r”!

    Thanks for the list!!
    Kassy

    • Miriam Slozberg January 20, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

      That is awesome he is doing so well and kudos to you Kassy for doing a great job with your son! And wash? Wow, that is not one I have yet heard with being mispronounced. Warsh.. interesting, thanks for the comment! 🙂

  3. Bethany M. January 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Our culture as a whole seems to be getting more and more illiterate, sadly. Thanks for bringing up this troubling topic, and reminding us all to raise our children to be intelligent little human beings! Bravo!
    Bethany M. recently posted…For A Dark January Day When You Need EncouragementMy Profile

    • Miriam Slozberg January 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

      So true Bethany, it is scary when you think about it. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Shellye L Lyons January 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Wow. It’s amazing that someone who is supposed to have a command of the English language would be pronouncing and teaching our children this way. I correct my son all the time. For some reason, he’s been pronouncing barely as burr-ly and it is driving me nuts! I also dislike “fixin to” and “sposed to”. It’s like fingernails on the chalkboard to me! Thanks for this great post!
    Shellye L Lyons recently posted…Let the Work Begin…My Profile

    • Miriam Slozberg January 21, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

      Ah yes, it is a scary reality. The English language has been butchered so it seems. Oh boy burr-ly, fixin to, and sposed-to are great ones to add to the list. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Salma January 21, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    Great list. Sometimes its such a small difference in pronunciation but I want my kids to speak correctly too. Thanks for sharing.
    Salma recently posted…How to Turn Chores into GamesMy Profile

    • Miriam Slozberg January 21, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      Very true, sometimes dialects can be different but this is not what I am referring to. Plenty of people these days don’t put an effort into pronouncing words the right way, and that is where the issue lies. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Jenn January 21, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    There is a lot of regional pronunciation involved also. I do agree about our teachers, though. One of my daughter’s teachers had very informal writing standards in personal emails to me and had the grammar of her 3rd grade students.
    Jenn recently posted…I Was On TV! Discussing Autism as a ParentMy Profile

    • Miriam Slozberg January 21, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

      I understand there are different dialects and that is ok. As I just said to Salma, the issue I have with is those who don’t put the effort into saying words the right way, and very sad about your daughter’s teacher. Thanks for sharing.

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