One of the worst pronunciation problems amongst native English speakers is the “ESK” sound. For some reason, many native English speakers pronounce it as X (EKS) instead of ESK. Instead of ESCape, people often say Xcape. This also happens with ESP, as in ESPecially, which is sometimes pronounced Xpecially.
It is nonsensical when you think about it, because EKSCape and EKSPecially have an extra consonant and therefore should be more difficult to say than ESCape or ESPecially. Why add the hard K sound into an already difficult consonant cluster?
It may be due to our prevalence of EX words like exciting, exaggerate, and exhaust, or it may just be due to laziness, but if you’re having trouble, try practicing transitioning from S to K and build the word ESCAPE around it:
SSSSK, SSSK, SSK, SK, SK, SK
E…SK, E..SK, E.Sk, ESK, ESK, ESK
ESK…ape, ESK..ape. ESK.ape, Escape, Escape, Escape
For those learning English, remember to work on the transitions between consonant sounds just as much as the actual consonants sounds themselves. This is especially true for difficult consonant clusters like asterisk, clothes, and sticks.
Native English speakers may think pronunciation is not important, but when you’re speaking with a non-native English speaker, it can lead to confusion. Pronunciation is a physical skill, which is only perfected with practice.