10 English Pronunciation Errors by Polish Speakers


If your mother tongue is Polish, you may find certain sounds in English more difficult than others. Here we present to you some of the common errors made by Polish-speaking students at Pronunciation Studio:

The audio in this article is by Pronunciation Studio teacher Tom Wisniowski who speaks GB English and Polish.

1. th

Polish speakers often replace the two ‘th’ consonant sounds /θ/ and /ð/ with /f/ and /d/:

I think there’s three of them.

2. /r/

/r/ in Polish is rolled – in English it is smooth:

train three dry crash

Also < r > is silent in English at the end of a syllable:

burn third cart her

3. Consonant / Vowel Joining

In English, where one word ends with a consonant and the next one begins in the vowel, the consonant moves to the next word, not so in Polish:

What͜ are͜  Ed͜  and Janet͜  eating?

4. Voiced Endings

Polish does not contain voiced sounds at the end of syllables, so Polish speakers often devoice the final consonant:

bed cab rag love

5. Aspiration

/p/, /t/, and /k/ are aspirated in English – they have a big explosive sound when they are released – but not for Polish speakers:

park came time

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6. Short Vowels /æ/ /ʌ/ /ɑ:/

Polish speakers will often mispronounce the vowels /ʌ/, /æ/ and /ɑ:/ as Polish does not contain them, instead the Polish /a/ is often used. The following words should be pronounced with different vowel sounds:

hat hut heart

7. -ing Endings

Polish speakers often mispronounce -ing endings in two ways, firstly by adding a /k/, secondly by using an /n/:

I was walking, talking & singing.

8. /ʊ/ Diphthongs

English contains two diphthongs (double vowels) ending with ʊ, Polish speakers tend to mispronounce the first part and over stress the second:

Don’t go so slowly.
How now brown mouse?

9. are

‘are’ is a confusing word to pronounce with at least 5 pronunciations in English (see this article), Polish speakers often struggle with it, using just one pronunciation:

Are you ok?
Where are you going?
They aren’t here.

10. ‘o’

Polish is a phonetically written language, you say what you see. English is not so much and one spelling that confuses Polish speakers is ‘o’, which can produce 8 pronunciations in English (Polish speakers may use just 2):

got /ɒ/
do /u:/
go /əʊ/
pork /ɔ:/
gold /ɒʊ/
wolf /ʊ/
today /ə/
women /ɪ/