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Lesson Transcript

Chihiro: Hey everyone, I'm Chihiro. The Pronunciation of Vowels in American English.
Ryan: Hi guys, I'm Ryan and welcome to our Pronunciation Series. Today we’re going to start with the basics and slowly work our way up!
Chihiro: In these five lessons, we will explain American pronunciation in detail so that you have a better understanding of how the language works. For those who already have some English background, we’ll provide you with some detailed information so that you can have an in-depth understanding of the pronunciation to help you through misunderstandings you may have experienced due to your articulation.
Ryan: For those of you who are beginners, this should provide some information to help you along your way. If you don’t understand the instructions completely, you can just imitate the sounds that we will be using as examples.
Chihiro: As you know, different languages have different sounds, and sometimes it is difficult to imitate the sound of another language when learning it. In this first lesson, we will break down vowels that are used in General American English pronunciation so that you can see why you may have difficulty hearing certain words or why the pronunciation of some words is so odd.
Ryan: But before we begin, let’s review the alphabet.
Chihiro: When we say that something is in alphabetical order, it means that it goes in this order; A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
Ryan: If you’re teaching children the alphabet, then there’s a little song that they can sing along to help memorization. Chihiro, sing it for us in your award winning singing voice.
Chihiro: There's a reason why I don't have a hit single out. I'll sing half, you sing half. Ready? A,B,C,D,E,F,G...
Ryan: H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P...
Chihiro: Q,R,S,T,U,V...
Ryan: W,X,Y,Z...
Chihiro: And that's what you can sing to young children to help them know their ABCs. It's the same tune as the twinkle twinkle little star for those who know it.
Ryan: Now, don't worry, there's no more singing listeners, Carrying on, The English Alphabet is based on Latin and has 26 letters. Each letter has an uppercase form and a lower case form. When written in cursive writing, it may look slightly different from print. Also, depending on what font you are using when typing on the computer, some letters may look slightly different.
Chihiro: Now, as we mentioned before, we'll be looking at the vowels of American English. The twenty-six letter English alphabet has twenty-six sounds divided into two groups - vowel sounds and consonant sounds. Unlike consonants, which are "closed" sounds for which we stop the flow of air in some way, vowels are "open" sounds. When we form vowel sounds, the air is not stopped, and it flows freely from the mouth. Every English word has at least one vowel sound.
Ryan: The English alphabet has five vowels which are - "-a," "-e," "-i," "-o," and "-u"
Chihiro: While there are only five vowels in writing, there are eighteen to twenty-three vowel sounds depending on the researcher.
Ryan: Vowels generally fall into two categories - "long vowels" and "short vowels." You can guess that the long vowels are the ones that last for a longer time than short vowels. We make vowel sounds in our mouths by positioning our tongue and the lips.
Chihiro: The sounds are made by positioning the tongue in the front, center and back of the mouth. We make front vowels with the tongue positioned in the front of our mouths. We make back vowels in the back of our mouths, and we make central vowels in the center.
Ryan: A monophthong is a single vowel sound, also know as a pure sound. A diphthong is when the tongue changes its position and glides from one vowel sound to another. A triphthong is when the vowel sounds changes its position three times.
Chihiro: But instead of getting too technical with the names, we will explain the different sounds using different words. It will be easier to understand the vowels and their sounds this way.
Ryan: Let's start with the front vowels.
Chihiro: The "i" sound in the words
Ryan: "heat" and "leap"
Chihiro: The "i" sound in the words
Ryan: "hit" and "tip"
Chihiro: The "e" sound in the words
Ryan: "met" and "kept"
Chihiro: The "a" sound in the words
Ryan: "map" and "bat"
Chihiro: And those are the front vowels sounds. Here are the example words again.
Ryan: Heat, leap, hit, tip, met, kept, map, bat
Chihiro: And next we have the central vowels. The "e" sound in the words
Ryan: "nut" and "cut"
Chihiro: The "e" sound in the words
Ryan: "the" and "away"
Chihiro: There is one more according to some linguistics, but since Ryan and I don't pronounce it, we won't go over it. So the examples again for central vowels are,
Ryan: nut, cut, the, away
Chihiro: And here are the back vowels. The "oo" sound in
Ryan: "loop" and "boot"
Chihiro: The "o" sound in
Ryan: "hook" and "put"
Chihiro: The "o" sound in
Ryan: "thought" and "fought"
Chihiro: And the "o" in
Ryan: "hot, "bog"
Chihiro: Those are examples of regular short vowels. Some vowels that are close in sound may not be so important to differentiate. However, some words may have vowels that depend on the sound difference of the vowel as well. They are usually not extremely close in this case.
Ryan: Let's carry on with our diphthongs.
Chihiro: Okay, let's do that. The "ow" sound in the word
Ryan: "low"
Chihiro: The "ou" sound in the word
Ryan: "loud"
Chihiro: The "ai" sound in
Ryan: "lied"
Chihiro: The "ay" sound in
Ryan: "lane"
Chihiro: The "oy" sound in
Ryan: "loin"
Chihiro: The "oo" sound in
Ryan: "loon"
Chihiro: The "ee" sound in
Ryan: "lean"
Chihiro: The "ee" sound in
Ryan: "leer”
Chihiro: The "ai" sound in
Ryan: "lair"
Chihiro: The "ur" sound in
Ryan: "lure”
Chihiro: Remember that diphthongs are sounds that change from one sound to another. Ryan will repeat the example words again.
Ryan: low, loud, lied, lane, loin, loon, lean, leer, lair, lure
Chihiro: And finally the triphthongs which you might have guessed as the vowels that have three consecutive sounds in a row. Let's start with the "ou" in the words
Ryan: "sour”
Chihiro: The "ia" in the word
Ryan: "liar”
Chihiro: The "ayo" in the word
Ryan: "mayor”
Chihiro: The "oya" in the word
Ryan: "royal”
Chihiro: And the "owe" in the word
Ryan: mower”
Chihiro: Again, those examples were
Ryan: sour, liar, mayor, royal, mower
Chihiro: Dictionaries will have the pronunciation represented in a phonetic form, which may be the IPA symbols or another form of phonetic representation.
Ryan: If you know the sound represented by each symbol, then you'll be able to know how a word is pronounced by looking at the dictionary. However, if you don’t know then it may be easier to go online and look at a dictionary with a sound function to it, so that it enunciates the word for you.
Chihiro: Sometimes, as we mentioned before, it doesn't matter if you pronounce a vowel differently, but sometimes it does matter in that it could be an entirely different word. The more you practice your pronunciation, the more you'll be able to hear the different vowels, and the more you'll understand. You might also avoid some embarrassing misunderstanding you might have had in the past as well.
Ryan: Good luck with these and keep practicing. Bye for now!
Chihiro: See you later, everyone!

38 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 06:30 PM
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This is the first lesson in our five-part series. What are some of the challenges you've faced in your pronunciation of English?

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 09:27 AM
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Hello Gabriel,


Thank you for joining us! 😄


We have a great team of teachers here at EnglishClass101.com and we are happy to help you with your learning needs.


If you would like further assistance or if you're still having problems understanding this lesson I suggest contacting your teacher through the 'MyTeacher' feature on our site. Your personal teacher will be more than happy to assist you!👍


Most kindly,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Gabriel
Tuesday at 10:24 AM
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Hi everybody.. it´s very difficult for me, but I will try

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 07:33 AM
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Hello Muhammad,


Thanks for taking the time to write to us. 😄


If you would like further assistance regarding your subscription, please contact your teacher through our ‘MyTeacher’ feature! (Link: www.englishclass101.com/myteacher)


Kindly,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Muhammad Aslam Sultani
Wednesday at 04:21 AM
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I was little bit confused after getting registered myself for Premium Plan for 24 months. Finally, I have decided to work on pronunciation first, and I am here now using the search facility of your portal. Thanks for such a resourceful site.

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 07:41 PM
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Hello Shelly,


Thanks for taking the time to comment.


It's always great to hear from our students.


Feel free to shoot through any questions you have throughout your studies.


Cheers,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Shelly
Wednesday at 09:21 PM
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👍👍👍

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Sunday at 08:34 AM
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Hello Lex,


Thanks a lot for your feedback. We are continuously working on improving our site, app, and materials, therefore the opinion of our students is highly valuable.

I will forward your message to our team for consideration! 😇


Kind regards,

Levente

Team EnglishClass101.com

Lex
Saturday at 12:20 PM
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Hello,


I want to give you an advise: It will be good to have the voice recording tool for this lesson.


This lesson was hard. I have to listened it some times.


Thanks

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Sunday at 07:58 AM
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Hello Celine,


You're very welcome! Glad you found this so helpful. 👍


I can give you an example vocabulary list with each vowel sound.


Short vowels:

a - 'pat'

e- 'pet'

i - 'pit'

o -'pot'

u - 'put'


Long vowels:

a -'gate'

e- 'seed'

i - 'pilot'

o - 'loop'

u - 'human'


I hope this helps. 😄👍


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Celine
Thursday at 12:20 AM
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Hello,


Thank you for this lesson, it's helpfull. Is their a vocabulary list that contain examples of each vowel sound ?

I tried to create a deck manually with your examples but most of them are not in the dictionnary.


Best regards