When /st/ becomes /ʃ/
Hi teachers. Today we focus on a different sound, the sound /st/ in final position (at the end of a word). We can find this in words such as ‘fast’, ‘must’, ‘test’, ‘past’ and ‘crust’. In English, this /st/ sound can change and sound more like a /ʃ/ sound. The /ʃ/ sound is usually represented by the letters ‘sh’ like in ‘sheep’, ‘ship’, ‘fashion’ and ‘fish’. Sometimes it can be represented by different letters such as ‘information’ and ‘moustache’. You can listen to all these sounds and words below:
When we listen to the words below, we can hear how /st/ changes to sound more like a /ʃ/ sound.
- “A fast ship.” – /ə fæʃɪp/
- “I must shop for rice.” – /aɪ mʌʃɒp fə raɪs/
- “The test sheets are here.” – /ðə teʃi:ts ɑ: hɪə/
- “Go past Sheffield Street.” – /gəʊ pæʃefɪld stri:t/
- “The crust should be crumbly.” – /ðə krʌʃʊd bi: krʌmbli/
- “You must charge the correct amount.” – / ju: mʌʃʧɑ:ʤ ðe kərekt əmaʊnt/
- “You must jump now!” – /ju: mʌʃʤʌmp naʊ/
From the above examples, we can see that when /st/ is followed by the sounds /ʃ/ (represented by ‘sh’) /ʧ/ (represented by ‘ch’) /ʤ/ (represented by ‘j’ and sometimes ‘g’) it sounds more like a /ʃ/ sound.
It is also interesting to note that /s/ can become /ʃ/ too (for the same reason) as can be seen with the examples below:
- “Miss Shaima” – /mɪʃeɪmə/
- “Miss Chaplin” – /mɪʃʧæplɪn/
- “Miss Jannah” – /mɪʃʤʌnə/
Why does this happen?
With /st/ two things are happening. First, the /t/ sound disappears (we can say the /t/ sound is dropped – this is quite common in English). The second is the /s/ sound changes into a /ʃ/ sound. Production of the /ʃ/ sound in your mouth is closer to production of the /ʧ/ /ʤ/ and of course the /ʃ/ sound. You can test this yourself. If you make these sounds you can feel that /ʃ/ /ʧ/ and /ʤ/ are made in the same part of the mouth.
When you have words together (like in the examples above) it is easier to move from /ʃ/ to those next sounds than it is to move from /s/, /t/ and /st/ because these sounds are produced in a different part of your mouth. Again, you can test this. Move from /s/, /t/ and /st/ to /ʃ/ /ʧ/ and /ʤ/ you can feel that your tongue has to move to a different position. When speaking this can affect fluency. The pictures below illustrate this:
Why might this important for teaching?
This can help your students to connect words more fluently when speaking. It should also help with their listening and the ability to recognise words more effectively if they know how /st/ can be affected in connected speech.
So, if you see similar words ending with /st/ in your textbook and the next word begins with a /ʃ/ /ʧ/ or /ʤ/ sound try modelling with the /ʃ/ sound to link the two words together.
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