The most difficult sounds to pronounce are typically the ones that do not exist in your native language (or in languages whose sounds you have already mastered). For English speakers these include the umlauted vowels ö and ü. Fortunately, there is a very effective method you can use for arriving at these sounds.
To pronounce the ö-sound, say “ay” as in day (or as in the German word See). While continuing to make this sound, tightly round your lips. Look in a mirror to make sure your lips are actually rounded. Voilà! The resulting sound is the ö-sound.
A similar method results in the ü-sound. Say “ee” as in see (or as in the German word vier). Again, while saying the sound, round your lips. The resulting sound is the ü-sound.
Like any unfamiliar sounds, being able to pronounce ö and ü correctly will come with repeated practice. After you find the correct mouth position using the tips above, practice reading words containing these characters aloud. Below are several audio files for you to listen to.
Here are two lists of commonly used words to get you started:
|Short vowel sound
|Long vowel sound