Please stop by my TpT store and see the latest addition to my English pronunciation resources. I’ve added a vowel pack that will be a great supplement to teaching/learning the American English accent.
When an ESL student has a hard time being understood in English, it is often the vowels that cause the biggest problems.Relying on English spelling will cause problems because of all the exceptions to our spelling rules.
mother has the sound UH like in mud, not O, and it sounds like muther
minute (60 seconds) has its second vowel reduced to an UH sound or short I sound, not a U sound, and it sounds like minut or minit
feel has a long e that in influenced by the final L; it is stretched out and a linking Y sound is added in between, and it sounds like fee yul
Follow this guide to learn the exceptions and the special rules for pronouncing American English vowels. Practice words and sentences are included for each lesson, including:
Reducingthe right sounds and words make English more understandable to your listeners. Reducing a vowel is a little bit like losing weight. We want our size to be smaller and less noticeable. When reducing a vowel in a word, we don’t fully pronounce that sound, but instead pronounce a more relaxed, quieter central vowel like “uh”.
What happens when you fully pronounce every vowel in “Silicon” – Silleee cone? Silly Kon? See Lee Kon? Do you understand that word? I wouldn’t. Students of English pronunciation need to reduce the weak vowels in words. English is a stress-timed language. We stress (louder, longer, higher pitch) the important words or parts of words. Most everything else is reduced to the schwa sound (uh).
Words spelled with I are the worst! Often we don’t pronounce I in weak syllables. Be sure to reduce the i to an “uh”.
In November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. I created this intermediate lesson for ESL students and teachers.
It includes major points of the story of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, how we celebrate Thanksgiving today, and expressing thankfulness to God for our blessings. Pictures accompany the text for ease of understanding. Use the lesson to begin a discussion on what your students are thankful for.
See my free printable for American Thanksgiving here. All images on the printable are from Google Images.
When a word has 2 or more syllables, the vowel in the strong syllable, the stressed syllable, is fully pronounced. The vowel in the weak syllable, the unstressed syllable, is usually reduced. Most common reductions are to the schwa sound /ə/ which sounds like “uh”.
bacon BAK ən
ribbon RiB ən
animals AN ə məlz
potato pə TAY do
symbol SYM bəl
actor AK dər
doctor DOK dər
officer OFF ə sər
president PRE zə dənt
Hope this helps. Keep up your good work speaking English.
How can you help someone who talks too much? I’ve been teaching social thinking to young adults with Aspergers and this is our lesson from this week.
People who talk too much often feel pressed to be speaking. They report that silence makes them uncomfortable and so talking (often about anything and everything) makes them feel better. Unfortunately their “too much” talking may be making others around them feel uncomfortable. If that’s the case and your friend, student or client wants to make a change, they may need a good reason to be quiet. Help them understand the value of silence in conversation with these simple ideas.
Examine pictures of how others feel with too much talking. It may be a little dramatic, but a photo or illustration can help someone “see” something that may not have noticed before. Facial expressions in real life are rapid and changing, so the “too much” talker may not even see how the other person feels. This extra cue can help someone see discomfort, annoyance or unhappiness.
Discuss quotes. Have you ever heard “Silence is Golden” ? How about “You have 2 ears and only one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.” These chestnuts have been around for ages – and that’s because of the wisdom in them. Get your client to verbalize what these mean, and they will improve their understanding of how important silence is for good communication and good social skills.
Discuss the value of silence. Did you know that if one is silent in conversation, it allows others to complete their thoughts without rushing, others feel valued and their opinion of you improves! That’s something that we love, isn’t it? Think of the benefits of silence and have your client do the same. When a person knows that there are benefits, they may be more willing to change, when change is uncomfortable. Remember the person who talks too much is often uncomfortable with silence.
I’ve included the free printable that I used with young adults with Aspergers in a social skills group. Hope this might help you also.