Category Archives: Chinglish

The Expansion of English in China


V vs. W


I used to think it was a matter of vocal mechanics: once they learned to say the letter “V”, they’d be fine.  They might need the occasional reminder, but they’d be fine.

They’re not fine.  It’s a Chinglish problem.  They’re fine until we get a couple of new kids in the class or they get a Chinese English teacher, and then they all slide back into the “W” sound.  We have to review this once a year or so.

I use the Interactive Sagittal Section to show them how their mouth should move for each letter.  If you use a webcam, you won’t need this.

Then we go over lists and lists of  “V” words.  (Think medieval.)  I try to practice words that the students would see regularly.

Very                                                           velvet
Violin                                                         vehicle
Vacation                                                   vowel
Vacuum                                                     verb
Valentine                                                  video
Valedictorian                                          view
Value                                                           village
Van                                                               violet
Vampire                                                     virus
Variety                                                        visit
Vocabulary                                               volleyball
Volunteer                                                   voice

Then we have more medieval word lists.

Eve                                                                 live
Every                                                            river
Evolution                                                    save
Environment                                             solve
Divide                                                           stove
Dive                                                               vivid
Give                                                               wave
Have                                                              weave

Then, when they’re bored out of their skulls, we do some tongue twisters.  Dave’s ESL Cafe has a “V vs. W” section here.  There are also a few here.

Finally, to drive the nail in completely, I do some of the level-appropriate activities in this pdf file, to show the students why they can’t mix up the two sounds.

Usually, they’re pretty good for a while after this, even to the point of correcting each other.