American English Vowels

There are 5 vowels in the English alphabet - A E I O U - but there are more than five vowel sounds in spoken English.

Each vowel has a long sound and a short sound. There is also the schwa vowel sound. Plus, there are vowel sounds such as the Long i that are made by pronouncing two single vowel sounds together.

Monophthongs = Single vowel sound               Diphthongs = Double vowel sound

You have already learned that all vowel sounds are voiced. You have also learned that vowel sounds are controlled by tongue position and tongue tension.

Let's take a look at the different tongue positions for the vowel sounds. Think about what your tongue is doing as you practice making the different vowel sounds.

Think about how your tongue moves up and down, forward and back.

Think about how you add tension to your tongue or keep your tongue relaxed.

Think about how the position and tension in your lower jaw changes as the position and tension of your tongue changes.

Think about how you can improve your pronunciation of some vowel sounds like the Long O and the Long U by rounding your lips.


**** Dis you see the IPA symbols in the vowel videos?  IPA = International Phonetics Alphabet.  Every letter sound in every language has an IPA symbol. We will talk more about IPA and pronunciation spelling later in the program. For now, just keep in mind that each letter sound has its own IPA symbol. ****

Some ESL students cannot hear the difference between the short vowels. To them the short i sounds like the short e, and the short e sounds like the short a. The differences are small and subtle.

Practice listening to the different vowel sounds. Listening is important when you are learning a new pronunciation. Your pronunciation will improve as your listening and understanding improves.

Have you started to think about practicing? When will you practice? Where will you practice?

                                                     Next: Lesson 5: Consonants

                         Program content & web design by Chris Opall © 2011.   Page last updated   July 28, 2012



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