Accent training exercises: Learn vowel sounds with the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)

Accent training exercises: Learn vowel sounds with the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)


Hi, everyone. A quick message before we get
started on today’s lesson. When you’re speaking English, are you constantly getting misunderstood?
Are people asking you to repeat yourself a lot? Or perhaps are they looking at you with a
confused face, perhaps pretending they know what you’re saying when really they don’t
understand? If your answer is yes and you’re at that stage where you already know English
and you can communicate, the problem is nobody else understands you, then I really want you
to watch until the end of this lesson because I’m going to tell you about my Clear Accent
Training Course. So, stay watching until the end of the lesson, and I’ll tell you how you
can speak clearly and get over that stage of being misunderstood and all the
frustrations that come with it. Hi, everyone. In this lesson I’m going to
teach you four English vowels, and I’m going to teach you those vowels in IPA. I’ll teach
you those symbols. When I was learning IPA it took me the longest time to remember the
sounds and to associate them with the symbols. It actually took years; a really long time. So
I’m not sure… I’m not sure if I was really slow to learn this or it’s… For some people
it’s easier than others, but anyway, this lesson comes from what helps me to learn,
which is when I practiced rather than just try to memorize, it’s when I get to experience
the different sounds and that way it sticks in my memory and that way I know. And another
thing is we’re only looking at four sounds because we don’t want: “Ah! Ah!” overwhelm,
confusion. And we’re looking at four sounds because these four sounds are related, and
when we learn them we learn them in comparison to the other sounds. So here they are: “I:”, “I”, “ʊ”, “U:”. So
you can do this along with me while you’re watching the video. “I:”, “I”, “ʊ”, “U:”.
Here’s a drawing of a tongue. What happens when we make these four sounds is that our
tongue moves in position… The tongue height changes in position and moves backwards from
one sound to the other. Now, you might need to practice this many times and get used to
the feeling of… See if you can put your awareness and your concentration on the shape
of your tongue, and feel it as it moves back through the sounds. “I:”, “I”, “ʊ”, “U:”.
Do that enough times so that you can feel your tongue moving, and that’s how you know
they’re related. We can also go backwards the other way, we can go: “U:”, “ʊ”, “I”,
“I:”. That’s harder for me; I had to think about it. Let’s look now at the lip shapes
when we make these sounds. For I:, I’ve got an English mouth so I don’t actually move
that much, but when I make these sounds I go from the widest lips position to the most
rounded lips position. “I:”, “I”, “ʊ”, “U:”. So, “U:” you can see is more rounded, and I
start in the widest position: “I:”. Depending on who’s teaching you, who you’re looking
at, depending on how wide their lips are, how big their mouth is, it’s easier to see.
But I’ve got a small English mouth, so you can’t really see it that well on me. So, practice
that, going backwards and forwards. Look in a mirror as well, and that way you can see how
your lip shape changes when you make the sounds. Okay, here we have two columns, these are
called minimal pairs. This is for “I:”, this is for “I”. The words are the same, except the
vowel has changed. We have: “beet”, “I:”, “I:”, and then we have: “bit”. So the only
difference is the vowel. “Beet”, “bit”. And the same through the rest of the list. “Sheep”,
“ship”; “deep”, “dip”; “feet”, “fit”; “cheap”, “chip”; “piece”, “piss”; “he’ll”, “hill”.
When we do the minimal pairs, we get to feel in our mouths and also we get to contrast the
two sounds. It’s helpful when we’re learning IPA. But the problem is not all the sounds have
pairs of words for us to repeat and to memorize. Let’s look at this column now. In this column
we’re comparing the sounds for “ʊ” and “U:”. The problem is now we don’t have pairs of words
for these two sounds. There’re not enough words to get pairs that are still real words, so
we have to use words that don’t sound exactly the same and have different sounds in. We
start with: “look”, “moon”; “could”, “soon”; “sugar”, “June”; “woman”, “rule”; “bush”,
“screw”; “foot”, “you”; “bull”, “move”. Now, as you listen to me doing the list, perhaps
a few words jumped out as not sounding like the other words: “bull” and “rule”. When we
get the “l” in it, it changes the pitch of the sound so it doesn’t fit with the other
words as neatly. So if you noticed that, you must have heard the pitch changing. So what
you can do is repeat these… These words, the “ʊ” and “U:”, repeat those so you get
familiar with the contrast. And then we’ll move to these diagrams,
these circle diagrams. And what these diagrams are for is for us
to practice changing from sound to sound, going around in a circle. So, we start with
“I:”, “I”, “ʊ”, “U:”, and it’s the same… Same changing sound in this one, and the same
changing sound in that one. Because what we want to do is get our tongue moving backwards
into the different positions, and our lips changing into the different positions. We
want it to be really practical pronunciation. So we’ll say it, going around in a circle.
“Deep”, “fit”, “look”, “soon”. And we’ll say it three times, but we can speed up as well.
“Deep”, “fit”, “look”, “soon”; “deep”, “fit”, “look”, “soon”; “deep”, “fit”, “look”, “soon”.
Another thing we can do is say it backwards. “Soon”, “look”, “fit”, “deep”; “soon”, “look”,
“fit”, “deep”. We’ll do the next one now. “Beat”, “hill”, “woman”, “move”; “beat”, “hill”,
“woman”, “move”; “beat”, “hill”, “woman”, “move”. You can say it backwards. “Move”,
“woman”, “hill”, “beat”; “move”, “woman”, “hill”, “beat”; “move”, “woman”, “hill”, “beat”.
And we’ll do this one. “He’ll”, “ship”, “sugar”, “soon”; “he’ll”, “ship”, “sugar”, “soon”;
“he’ll”, “ship”, “sugar”, “soon”. “Soon”, “sugar”, “ship”, “he’ll”; “soon”, “sugar”,
“ship”, “he’ll”; “soon”, “sugar”… You say it fast, like a tongue twister, say it enough
times, you’ll get it right. “Soon”, “sugar”… “Soon”, “sugar”, “ship”, “he’ll”; “soon”,
“sugar”, “ship”, “he’ll”. Or pick words that don’t have s in it… In them, it’ll be much
easier. So with these you can go backwards and forwards, you can do fast and slow, you
can change to put your own words in and do your own practice. Now what’s useful is to put the vowels with
consonants. These are just nonsense sounds, but they help us to practice the vowels together
with a consonant sound. So, I’m going to read this line: “bi:”, “ki:”, “si:”, “mi:”. “bi:”,
“ki:”, “si:”, “mi:”. This line: “bI”, “kI”, “sI”, “mI”. “bI”, “kI”, “sI”, “mI”. “bʊ”,
“kʊ”, “sʊ”, “mʊ”. That didn’t sound right. “bʊ”, “kʊ”, “sʊ”, “mʊ”. “bʊ”, “kʊ”, “sʊ”,
“mʊ”. “bu:”, “ku:”, “su:”, “mu:”. What’s good about doing this is you can change with other
consonants as well, you can do with a “da” or a “ta”, and it lets you practice those
different sounds, and you really have to think when you’re saying it. You have to think about
the phoneme, otherwise you’ll say it wrong. You can’t just read it, but you can read these
words. So I’m going to go through the list from the beginning until the end. “bi:”, “ki:”,
“si:”, “mi:”, “bI”, “kI”, “sI”, “mI”, “bʊ”, “kʊ”, “sʊ”, “mʊ”, “bu:”, “ku:”, “su:”, “mu:”.
Now, another exercise you can do to really make you think and get your tongue exercising
is to improvise the order, so you just… You just pick any… Any one, and you say it.
So, what we could try is I’m going to… I’m going to point and then you say it, and
I’ll say it. I’ll give you a little time, you say it after and you can check if it’s
right. “bI”, “kʊ”, “su:”, “si:”, “bi:”, “mI”, “bu:”, and you can do more practice,
make your own list of words like that. Now we have the real challenge. So, this…
The line has a different vowel sound along it, and it goes like this and we say the phonemes
at a different volume, depending on how tall they are or how short they are. If they’re
tall we say them louder, and if they’re small we don’t say them as loud. Now, this is…
This is quite tricky to do. I’ve not practiced this yet, so hopefully I’m going to get it
all right. You can do it… You can do it along with me, or you can pause when I’ve
finished and try it yourself. I, i:, ʊ, i:, u:, I, I, ʊ, i:, u:, ʊ, i:, i:, ʊ, ʊ, ʊ, i:,
I, i:, I, i:, ʊ, u:, I, I, ʊ, u:, I. Right. I know I made mistakes that time. It’s hard.
It’s hard, I told you it’s hard. I’ll try it again. Hopefully this time it’s going to
go better. I, i:, ʊ, i:, u:, I, I, ʊ, I, u:, ʊ, i:, i:, ʊ, ʊ, I, i:, I, ʊ, u:, I, I, ʊ, u:,
I. To be honest, I’m thinking about it too much because I’m trying to do it correctly.
When you do it, don’t worry so much about saying the wrong sound, just have a go and
try and let it flow. So, anyone with a keen ear and you know I’ve made a mistake, if I
made a mistake, it’s because it’s hard. It’s improvised and I haven’t practiced a lot,
but I’m showing you that’s the point. Even when you know these things and you’ve learnt
them a long time ago and you keep practicing them, you still have to think
about it a lot of the time. Great, so you made it to the end of the video.
Now it’s my turn to tell you about my Clear Accent Training Course which I made for people
in your situation, people who are being asked to repeat themselves again and again, and
people who are getting that confused face when you’re speaking English because they
don’t quite understand. Well, I made my Clear Accent Training Course to teach you how to speak
clearly so that you get over those communication difficulties, so that your accent is clear
so that you can be easily understood. If you are ready to totally change the way you speak
and learn a practical method for improving your accent, it’s time to click the button
and it’s time to get a clear accent. I’ll see you soon. Thanks for watching.
Bye.