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Lesson Transcript

Gina: I’m your host Gina.
Gabriella: And I’m Gabriella.
Gina: Consonants in British English.
Gabriella: In this series, we will teach you about British English pronunciation.
Gina: British English has many different accents and dialects, but the basic pronunciation is the same. We will discuss those differences in more detail in a later lesson though.
Gabriella: In this lesson specifically, we will tell you how to pronounce consonants.

Lesson focus

Gina: So, the English alphabet is based on the Roman, or Latin alphabet, right?
Gabriella: That’s right. It’s used for many different languages across the world, so even non-native English speakers could be familiar with it.
Gina: It has 26 letters – of these, five are vowels and twenty one are consonants.
Gabriella: Yes, and it’s those 21 consonants that will be the stars of this lesson.
Gina: If there are 21 consonants, does that mean that there are 21 sounds?
Gabriella: No, it’s not as straightforward as that.
Gina: I didn’t think it would be!
Gabriella: We will be looking at 24 consonant sounds in this lesson.
Gina: There is also the issue that not every consonant in a word is voiced.
Gabriella: That’s right. Some words have double consonants such as “account”, which is spelt A-C-C-O-U-N-T, and others have completely silent consonants.
Gina: Like “knee”, which is a part of your leg. That’s spelt K-N-E-E but the “k” is completely silent.
Gabriella: That’s right. We call consonants closed sounds because when we speak them, we stop the flow of air in some way.
Gina: Okay. That’s a lot of background on consonants. Let’s move on and talk about the pronunciation of them.
Gabriella: What’s first?
Gina: There’s the “p” sound in words such as “pull”
Gabriella: And “push”. Then the “f” in words such as “food”.
Gina: And “four”. Next, the “t” in “tree” and “talk”.
Gabriella: The “s” in “stop”.
Gina: And “start”. Then, the “k” sound in “cup” and “kick”.
Gabriella: Even though “cup” is spelt with a “c”, it still sounds more like a harsh “k” sound.
Gina: Next up, the “b” in “ball” and “boy”.
Gabriella: This next one can be tricky sometimes – the “v” in “vote” and “voice”.
Gina: The “d” sound that begins “daughter” and “door”.
Gabriella: The “j” in “joke” and “join”.
Gina: The “z” in “zoo” and “noise”.
Gabriella: Again, “noise” is spelt with an “s”, but “s” is often pronounced with more of a “zee” sound.
Gina: That’s right.
Gabriella: Then, the “szh” sound in “pleasure” and “casual”.
Gina: The harsh “g” that begins “girl” and “garden”.
Gabriella: The “h” that begins “head” and “heart”.
Gina: The “m” in “money” and “meat”.
Gabriella: The “n” in “night” and “nurse”.
Gina: The “ng” in “English” and “sing”
Gabriella: The “r” in “rule” and “road”.
Gina: The “l” in “love” and “letter”.
Gabriella: Don’t mix the “r” and “l” sounds up!
Gina: The “w” in “want” and “where”.
Gabriella: The “y” in “year” and “yellow”.
Gina: The soft “th” in “thigh” and “thought”.
Gabriella: Which is completely different to the harsher “th” in “there” and “they”, even though they are both spelt T-H.
Gina: The “ch” that begins “chair” and “child”.
Gabriella: And finally, the “sh” that begins “shoe” and “shot”.
Gina: Finished! That was a long list!
Gabriella: Yeah, it was! We picked out a few important points as went along, but I hope our listeners were able to pick up some of the similar sounds.
Gina: Yeah, the “s” and “z” sounds are similar – “start” and “zoo”.
Gabriella: The main difference when pronouncing the two is in the vocal chords – you use them for “z”, but not for “s”.
Gina: Yes, the tongue positioning and everything is the same, so they can be tricky for non-natives to separate.
Gabriella: It’s the same with the “d” and “t” sounds. “D” is voiced like “z”, so the vocal chords come into play whereas “t”, like “s”, isn’t voiced.
Gina: Can you give us an example of the “d” and “t” sounds?
Gabriella: How about “duck” and “took”? Although they’re spelt differently, they sound very similar other than for that opening sound.
Gina: The “d” sound is harsher and louder than the “t” sound is. That’s the difference the vocal chords make, isn’t it?
Gabriella: That’s right. So when speaking English, we have to think about mouth shape, tongue position, and our vocal chords. It sounds like a lot, but it soon becomes second nature.


Gina: Okay, that’s all for consonants, and for this lesson.
Gabriella: Thanks for listening, and see you next time.
Gina: See you!