The English spelling system has 5 letters that represent the vowels A-E-I-O-U (and sometimes Y), but when talking, these vowels have at least 20-different vowel sounds!
Pronouncing English vowels are defined by changes made with the tongue, the degree of muscle tension (tense or relaxed), and lip movements. These tiny little changes make a BIG difference successfully communicating your intended words. For example, the comparisons below show that if you try to pronounce a word with one vowel sound, ex: head, but pronounce the word with a different sound, the desired word may sound more like ‘had’, ‘hat’, or ‘hot’. This week’s podcast will help you hear the differences and give you words to practice saying the differences.
Listen to Ep. 26 Pronouncing English With Pam Podcast
/ɛ/ This is a relaxed sound. Our mouth is open slightly, lips are neutral.
pen, men, slept, head, better
/æ/ tense sound (mouth open). lips are back slightly.
fast, had, slap, clap, man, pan, Pam
/ɑ/ tense sound (mouth is open the most), lips are forward a little or neutral.
stop, daughter, fought
Can you say these two words differently?
/ɛ/ – /æ/
How did you do? Do you have difficulty hearing the difference between words? Tell me in the comments below!