The French accent in English is very charming, even sexy according to many people. Dropping h's and adding h's all over the place is all part of the charm, but too much can turn charming into ridiculous. If you're making a presentation or speaking on a conference call, you want people to be listening to what you're saying, not counting how many times you say av instead of have. And what about if you want to tell someone you're hungry? Will they think you're angry?
It's better to be able to control those pesky h's for the times when you really don't want to tell someone they have nice air.
My top tips:
1. Take a breath before an h. If you have a sentence with a word beginning with h - for example, I'm going to the hairdresser - take a tiny pause and a tiny breath before hairdresser so you can do a little exhale to aspirate the h.
2. If a word begins with a vowel, link it to the word before. For example if you want to say I need some fresh air, you should imagine you are saying I need some freshair. Don't leave any room for an h to sneak in.
3. Practise saying I'm hungry and I'm angry. I'm hungry has a little pause before the h. When you say I'm angry you should imagine you're saying I mangry. You also need to open your mouth really wide for the a sound, like you are going to bite into a huge apple.
4. Beware of words that have a silent h: hour, honest, honour, heir, vehicle, exhausted. Just imagine there is no h and your pronunciation will be correct.
5. Practise, practise, practise. Reading aloud for 1 minute a day and really concentrating on the h's is an excellent way to improve. If you can stand it, record yourself.
When I first met my husband, he put extra h's everywhere and dropped all the other h's. As he often has to do public speaking in English, he really made an effort to practise, and his h's are nearly perfect now. Except after a few glasses of wine, but that's all part of his charm...
My blog has changed! If you're looking for my English-practice exercises, they're all still here, just look in the archives.
Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...