My ESL student had a hard time communicating with a waitress at a restaurant. She tried to order orange juice. Her soft G or J sound was the culprit. As a Korean, her soft G or J sound was more like an American ZH sound (like in measure). This problem also happens for Russian, Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin speakers because they use a sound similar, but not precisely like the American English soft G or J.
Soft G and J are pronounced the same in English. Remember English spelling is pretty difficult, with many different ways to spell words with the same sounds. Wish it weren’t a problem, but it is! Soft G is in words like giant, giraffe, age, and large. J (pronounced the same way) is found in words like juice, jack, major, and reject.
If this a problem for you, try adding the /d/ sound right before:
d + zh = j
Here are practice words that already have a /d/ sound in them. By practicing these words, you can shape your /zh/ sound to be more like a /j/:
Listen to -dge words here.
When you see other words with soft G or J, imagine there is a /d/ there and make that sound. It will sound more American.
Now let’s get back to orange. The /n/ before the soft G sound makes it a little tricky, so go slow. Pronounce each sound carefully. And remember to add in the/d/ sound right before the soft G.
oran + d + ge = “orandge”.
Want to practice this harder sound combination? Here are some words with the same ending as “orange”:
Listen to the “-nge” word list here.
I hope that helps! What sounds are you having trouble with? Let me know and I’ll post the techniques to make your pronunciation more understandable.