You want to sound like a native speaker, but you don’t know how to improve your pronunciation! Here’s a little secret: the fastest way to get better pronunciation is to work on your vowel sounds. In this video, I will teach you how to pronounce four vowels that are common in both British and American English. We’ll be looking at back vowels. You’ll learn by seeing what my mouth, lips, and tongue are doing when I pronounce these vowel sounds, then you’ll practice saying them by doing the same with your mouth. Often, English learners don’t notice the difference between these sounds, and that might be why you aren’t saying them correctly. We’ll compare these similar vowel sounds to make those differences clear. I will show you the different spellings of these sounds in English and you will learn what the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols for these vowels are. You should also watch my other video on FRONT VOWEL SOUNDS: https://youtu.be/k98VNRLEisE Those are just as important!
Hello. My name is Emma, and in today’s video we are going to learn about pronunciation, specifically how to pronounce back vowels. Okay? So, whether you are learning British English, Canadian English, American English, whatever English you’re learning, these sounds exist in all of them. Okay? So it doesn’t matter what type of… What dialect you’re learning. You will find these sounds in many different dialects.
Okay, so to get started let’s talk about: What are vowels? So I have here “a”, “e”, “i”, “o”, “u”, and sometimes “y”. These are what we call vowels in English. Okay? So, these make a certain type of sound where usually you… You have a lot of air coming into your mouth from the back of your throat. So it’s not so important how… Like, what a vowel is. The main thing is to remember that “a”, “e”, “i”, “o”, “u”, and sometimes “y” are vowels. Whatever is a letter that isn’t one of these is called a consonant, so for example: “s”, “t”, “d”, “f”. These are all consonants.
Okay, so let’s get started by looking at this and thinking: What is a consonant and what is a vowel? So we have here the word: “drew”. Can you tell me: What is the vowel in this word: “drew”? If you said this, you’re correct. Okay? The “d”, “r”, and the “w”, they’re consonants, and the “e” is a vowel. We have the word here: “foot”. So what’s the vowel? In this case it’s the o’s and “f” and “t” are consonants. “Hello”, the “e” is a vowel and so is the “o”. “All”, in this case the “a” is the vowel. “Jaw”, and “clock”. Okay, so these are the different vowels in English. Today we are going to be looking at four of the vowel sounds that happen in the back of your mouth.
So I’ll explain that in a second, but first I want you to look at these four words: “foot”, “food”, “foe”, “flock”. What is the same in these words? If you look at the spelling, all these words have an “o” in the spelling. Now, do we pronounce the “oo” the same way? Listen carefully. Is the “o” pronounced the same in each of these words? “Foot”, “food”, “foe”, “flock”. The “o” is actually pronounced differently in these words, which is why you can’t always depend on spelling in English to help you with your pronunciation. Okay? So I’m going to teach you how to… You know, some tips on how to do these different pronunciations and how to know when to pronounce which sounds. Okay.
So, before we get to these different vowel sounds we’re going to practice today, I just wanted to tell you some general things about pronouncing vowels. A lot of students, they don’t know what they’re doing with their mouth when they’re pronouncing. It’s very important to pay attention to what your mouth is doing and what your tongue is doing when you actually pronounce something. Okay? This will really help you improve your pronunciation. It’s also a good idea maybe to use a mirror in order to look and become aware of what this area is doing to make the sound.
So, when you’re thinking about your lips it’s important to think: Are your lips spread, like: “cheese”, or are your lips…? So this would be spread. Or are your lips like closer together, like: “food”, “oo”? “ee”, “oo”, notice the difference? So that’s one thing to look at: Are your lips spread like “ee” or are they close together like “oo”? Okay. How open is your mouth? Is something you want to look at. Is it not very open, like: “oo”? Or is it very open, like: “ah”? Okay? How open is your mouth?
The other thing you want to pay attention to is your tongue. So, these are your lips. I’m not a great artist, I know. These are your teeth, this is your chin, your neck, and this red… Red thing is your tongue. Is your tongue touching your teeth, is your tongue touching the top of your mouth, or is your tongue hanging out kind of close to the back of your mouth?