I have difficulty to pronounce (あ段, お段) 拗音, e.g., きゃ, きょ, ひゃ, ひょ correctly.

My Japanese language teacher is a native Japanese. What she taught me is the same that I can find on the Internet. For instance, きゃ mix き and や together and speak them together.

I practice a lot, but I still can't get it right. Such instruction is very unhelpful.

I asked a friend who knows linguistics and could speak my mother tongue (Cantonese). He said that my mother tongue did not have the vowels (ia) and (io). Therefore, it is challenging for me to pronounce it correctly.

I also found some resources on the Internet, like listening to the Japanese people to speak, and then somehow, I will pronounce them correctly. Such advice is also unhelpful.

I used to have difficulty with ぞ and じょ. I overcome it by following an instruction on a book, which is to move my tongue to the correct position.

Is there any similar method to practice speaking (あ段, お段) 拗音? If not, what can I do?

  • I am electing to leave this question open as it asks for pronunciation help that will be useful for other Chinese individuals learning Japanese.
    – ajsmart
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


For the 拗音 starting with //k-//, and for speakers familiar with English, think of the name of the letter Q. This is the same kind of 拗音, and is quite close to the pronunciation of the Japanese kana combination きゅ. So for the other vowel values, think about using the same mouth shapes as Q to start, and just change the ending vowel.

For the 拗音 starting with //h-//, I'd suggest thinking about the sounds for や・ゆ・よ, in particular the shape of you mouth when you say them. Keep that shape, and just add the //h-// on the front.

Hope this helps!

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