Pronunciation of "dr" and "tr"

One of my co-workers teaches his students the pronunciation of “dr” as a “jr” sound, so “drive” is pronounced as “jrive”. He does the same with “tr” pronouncing it as “chr”, so “train” is pronounced “chrain”. I personally disagree and think of it as a lazy way to get students to say them. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

That’s the sort of thing that causes Chinese people to have errors over the long term. :fume: Sounds should be taught correctly from the very beginning. They are much more difficult to correct later on.

I must be missing something.

I’ve been using the boring method of teaching dr as dr.

i would have said this method was exactly right. another regional difference?

How would you teach it? “tr-” sounds like “chr-” to me.

The truth is, the sounds are very close. D is a stop, J is an afficate. T is a stop, “ch” is an afficate. And they’re pronounced very close to each other in the mouth. If you put them in a consonant cluster the sound that is produced is going to be nearly indistinguishable. That’s why [tʃr] is not found in the language (at least anymore), it sounds too much like [tr].

But when students see a “t” they should not be thinking “ch”. When they see a “j” they shouldn’t have “d” in their head. Shortcuts like that are what lead to systematic errors. We don’t want them saying “chore” instead of “tore” or “jive” instead of “dive”.

Now, if you tell them to start a “d” position, move through the “j” position, and then make an “r”, that may be a good way to teach the cluster sound. The same with “t” moving through the “ch” position to the “r”. But the initial consonant should be one used by the word. They shouldn’t start at the middle position.

Teach both ways. Except for “jr” for “dr”. That one’s pretty iffy. I say “chree”, but I definitely don’t say “jrive”.

funny, i say “jrive” exactly. if i try to say "d"rive it sounds more like thrive than drive.

Do this:
Pronounce /t/ then /ch/ repeatedly several times. After the last /ch/, change it to “try” then “chry”.

Do the same thing with /d/ then /j/ followed by “dry” then “jry”.

When I do this, I can feel the difference in my mouth and detect the difference in sound. As I said earlier, it is a slight difference. But /t/ is not /ch/ and /d/ is not /j/.

I guess my opposition here is a bit out of proportion. Using these particular approximations may not be so bad. You are just skipping the initial position of the tongue, and the end result will be nearly identical to what it’s approximating. But I have an issue with approximations in general since so many of the systematic errors students have come from less suitable approximations.

On principle I’d insist on teaching students to start from the natural position of the initial and then move through the middle postions (ch and j) rather than starting at the middle positions. But I take back the :fume: smiley that went from my first post as it relates to this specific shortcut.

Sounds like a New Jersey accent. Is your co-worker from New Jersey?

That’s exactly how I say both of those blended consonants. The j sound didn’t occur to me until a young class I was teaching kept writing down ‘jragon’ for dragon. However, when I try pronouncing ‘dr’ with a ‘d’ it sounds unnatural; it’s as if I’m trying to speak with some phony Hollywood medieval accent. I also roll the ‘r’ in ‘thr’ but that is supposedly specific to Brooklyn. I disagree with using those letters to describe the sound though, why confuse the students? Just say the ‘jr’ sound and teach it as ‘dr’.

well said!

Ideally, the students will already know words such as “tree”, “train”, “drive” and “drum”, so when you come to teach “tr” and “dr” explicitly, they’ll already have some experience of those sounds.

If any students are having difficulty pronouncing the sounds, you can then do exercises to help them get it. As Puiwaihin said, however, using other letters to represent the sound is probably not a great idea.

The “chr” sound, ok. The “jr” soudn, I’m still not so sure. That’s too “redneck” in my opinion. Might as well teach them “aint”. /d/ is easier to pronounce in front of /r/ due to “d” and “r” being voiced sounds. Why change a voiced sound to another voiced sound. /t/ is more difficult to pronounce before /r/. “ch” is easier because it is more voiced.

Maybe this is getting a bit technical and picky, but I think that “ch” before “r” is way more common than “j” before “r”. “ch” is really common. Almost everyone uses it. “j” is really not common at all. “j” is more local than “ch”. “ch” is more universal in North America than “j”, etc.