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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Improve your accent: Introduction to the IPA and vowel sound training

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Hi, everyone. In this lesson Im going to teach you four English vowels. Here are the

vowels: “e”, “ɜ:”, “ə”, “ɔ:”. The reason to learn these four English vowels

in IPA is that these are the actual sounds in English words; and if you know IPA, when

youre learning words, you can get the right pronunciation. The thing about it is these

symbols are hard to learn. I know it took me a really, really long time to learn, and

thats because I learn sounds in a practical way. So, me just trying to memorize these

sounds didnt work for me, but doing practical exercises like this was how, after a lot

notno. It took me a long, long, long time before I did practical exercises to remember

these sounds. So I wish I did something like this at the beginning. So arent you lucky?

Because Im going to teach you the shortcut to remembering these vowels.

WhatsWhat we should know about these vowels is that they are grouped together,

because they are central vowels. The position that our tongue takes when we make these four

vowels is centralits not high; its not low. And the difference between them is

we move from a more forward position with our tongue to a more backward position.

Now, another thing is that ɜ: and ə (schwa), the position is actually the same in the mouth;

nothing changes, except the ɜ: sound is stressed and we can hear it very clearly and notice

it; whereas the schwa sound: “uh”, “uh”, its hard to say by itself because its

an unstressed sound, but we do it in exactly the same position. We dont have to move

our tongue for that one; its just a difference in the power of the sound.

Lets look at the lip position now. We start with the lips lightly spread. Okay? Its

not as much asewhich is spread as wide as possible. “Eis not on here.

Its not as wide ase”; its lightly spread: “e”, so a little bit less. “e”.

And then the next two are the same position. This I would just call spread, so a little

bit wider. “ɜ:”, “ə”, “ɔ:”. You can see the big difference between here,

when I go to “ɔ:”. “ɜ:”, “ɔ:”. So, when I get to “ɔ:”, my lips are in

the most rounded position. All right, lets look at some contrasting

words now so that we can get more used to these vowels in words. Well read like this,

starting with: “petfore”; “birdfor “ɜ:”. The way I always remember this

symbol is to imagine a bird, flying, and thats the most perfect word for me to remember that

sound. Imagine a bird: “bird”. “Red”, “wa-…” This isword”, “word”.

Word”. “Red”, “word”; “ten”, “murder”; “head”, “burden”; “said”,

curse”; “many”, “burn”. Now, what can be confusing about this is when

we look at the spellings of these words and we think: “Whats going on here?” because

if I sayIf I say: “head”, and thats the vowel, “e”, why is it spelt with an

ain there? Thats just confusing, right? Well, thats English spelling, unfortunately.

Trying to learn too many spelling rules for the IPA isnt that helpful. Its helpful

sometimes, but it only takes you so far. We can see a pattern in here, though. The “ɜ:”

sound is often spelt withr”. Oftenurin a lot of words; “murder”, “burden”,

curse”, “burn”. Now lets look at schwa. When I write schwa,

I can write: “uh”. Thats the closest I can get to pronouncing schwa as an unstressed

sound. Usually its resting in the middle of other sounds. And the way I remember it

myself is that in English, a dog goes: “Woof. Woof, woof.” But in Turkish, a dog goes,

like: “Uh, uh. Uh, uh.” Thats their sound forwoof”. But, basically, its

a schwa sound. So it helps me; I dont know if it helps you. But were going to go side

to side, here. Schwa: “uh”, “aw”. “Uh”, “paw”; “problem”, “more”;

freedom”, “boring”; “album”, “sword”; “again”, “sure”; “parrot”,

lord”. Okay? Whats hard about schwa is that in these

words weve got two syllables, so we have toWhich ones got the schwa in it? I dont

know which ones got the schwa in it. Ive underlined where the schwa is in the word.

And the annoying thing about schwa as well is that it sounds slightly different, depending

onWe can pronounce it slightly different, depending on the vowel its closest to.

Okay? Were getting a bit deepWere going a bit deep, there, but if you just were

listening to me and thinking: “That sounds different in every word”, thats good

because you notice that the schwa changes sound.

And looking at the “ɔ:” wordsWell just do the “ɔ:” words. “Paw”, “more”,

boring”, “sword”, “sure”, “lord”. Notice theyre all spelt differently. So,

we dont have helpful spelling rules for “ɔ:”. But the good thing about it is

that its a reallyIts one of the easiest ones to remember because it sounds

very distinctive and it takes us a long time to say it. “ɔ:”.

Now lets practice going around in circles, saying the different sounds. And we do this

so that we practice moving between the sounds. You can say it with me at the same time. “Pet”,

bird”, “again”, “paw”. “Uh”, “again”. Unstressed, here. “Pet”,

bird”, “again”, “paw”. “Pet”, “bird”, “again”, “paw”. We can

say it backwards: “Pet”, “paw”, “again”, “bird”. “Pet”, “paw”, “again”,

bird”. “Pet”, “paw”, “again”, “bird”.

Another one: “head”, “burden”, “free”… “Head”, “burden”, “freedom”, “sword”.

Head”, “burden”, “freedom”, “sword”. “Head”, “burden”, “freedom”, “sword”.

Sword”, “freedom”, “burden”, “head”. “Sword”, “freedom”, “burden”,

head”. “Sword”, “freedom”, “burden”, “head”. You can say it a bit slower. You

can take your time. Take your timethat will help you say it clearly.

Many”, “burn”, “parrot”, “lord”. “Many”, “burn”, “parrot”, “lord”.

Many”, “burn”, “parrot”, “lord”. Okay? The other way: “Lord”, “parrot”,

burn”, “many”. “Lord”, “parrot”, “burn”, “many”. “Lord”, “parrot”,

burn”, “many”. You can make your own circle thingies, using your own words

from this list or any other words with the sounds in that you choose.

Now lets practice the sounds with different consonant sounds. Im going to start reading,

here, with the consonantpe”, consonantse”, consonantte”, consonantle”.

Pe”, “pɜ:”… “Pe”, “pɜ:”, “pə”, “pɔ:”. “Se”, “sɜ:”,

sə”, “sɔ:”. “Te”, “tɜ:”, “tə”, “tɔ:”. “Le”, “lɜ:”,

lə”, “lɔ:”. You can read it this way; you can go backwards.

Another thing you can do is improvise the order. When you improvise the order, you have

to really read the sound. You cant just rely on the rhyming; you have to really think

about it. So what Im going to do is point to the sound, give you a little bit of time

to say it, then Ill say it after. “lɔ:”, “tɜ:”, “sə”, “pɜ:”, “te”,

sɔ:”, “pɔ:”, “lɜ:”, “tə”, “sɜ:”, “pe”.

Now were going to do the phoneme snake. In the phoneme snake, II have to read

the phoneme snake, pronouncing the different sounds. When the sound is small, I just make

a normal volume; but as its bigger, I have to say it louder. Lets try. “ɜ:”,

“ə”, “ɔ:”, “ɜ:”, “ə”, “ə”, “e”, “e”, “ɜ:”, “e”,

“ɜ:”, “ɔ:”, “ə”, “ə”… Its hard to do that one loud. “ɜ:”,

“ɜ:” “e”, “ɔ:”, “ɜ:”. Im going to read it backwards. Lets

do this. “ɜ:”, “ɔ:”, “e”, “ɜ:”, “ə”, “ə”, “ə”, “ɔ:”, “ɜ:”,

e”, “e”, “ɜ:”, “e”, “e”, “ə”, “ə”, “ɜ:”, “ɔ:”,

“ə”, “ɜ:”. Its hard. Its especially hard when you try and do schwa loudly; its

not really possible, IveIve since discovered, since doing this phoneme snake.

So, the reason we do these exercisesits not about: Oh, saying it perfectly; getting

it all right; not making any mistakes. We do it to make ourselvesWell, you cant

think quicker than it comes to you. If youIf you saw me standing there, like this, and

waiting for the sound to come in my headSo, dont worry if you get stuck sometimes;

just keep having a go. And the more you can practice it and the more it becomes unconscious;

without thinking about itthats when you know you really know.

So what I want to do now, for anyone whos interested, is tell you about my accent course,

because I teach you all the sounds of English. I also teach you how to speak in a flowing

way thats connected, and I teach you to speak clearly. Speaking clearly means knowing

the sounds, what they are, how to say them; but speaking clearly also means getting your

sentences to flow. And when you do that, you sound natural when youre speaking English

and people can understand you more easily, and you can understand them more easily because

you understand how pronunciation works and how sentences flow together.

So, for anybody whos interested to check out my course, here are the details now, at , and thank you for watching, and Ill see

you again soon. Bye.

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