Improving your pronunciation means learning how to pronounce all the sounds of English- especially the vowels and consonants which do not exist in your language. It’s important to learn how to move your tongue, lips and jaw and then to practice these new sounds
in words and phrases.
Below is a free sample lesson from Best Accent Training on the vowel /I/. This vowel is one of the most important vowels of English. We find it so many important words like it, is, this, did, in, sit, live and thousands more. Many students confuse /I/ with /i/. For example “live” and “leave.” However, to an American or “Brit” , they are completely different and it is therefore important to master the subtle difference.
A. Listen to the sound of /I/:
B. Listen and repeat /I/:
C. How to produce /I/:
Raise the center of your tongue high and forward. This position is close to /i/, but it is slightly lower, less forward and more relaxed than /i/. The lips are relaxed. *Pronunciation Tip: If you are having trouble finding /I/, there are a couple of ways to find it. You can begin by saying /i/ and then slowly lowering your tongue. Try to relax the center of your tongue. Gently fall into /I/. Another exercise is this: Say /i/ as in “see”. Now say /ε/ like in the word “ten” or “get”. Slowly go from /i/ to /ε/ without stopping. When you slowly lower your tongue from /i/ to /ε/, you can find /I/ in the middle, between /i/ and /ε/. The tongue position for /I/ is lower than /i/, but higher than / ε /.
D. Listen and repeat the following words containing /I/. Go slowly.
sit… him… it…is… sick… tin… fill… big… lip… live… think… kiss… rich… chicken… bitter… system… physics… building… middle…
E. Listen and repeat the following phrases and sentences containing /I/:
1. Please sit down
2. I miss you.
3. It’s no big deal. (not a serious problem)
4. It’s in the kitchen
5. Kim loves Brad Pitt.
6. Click on the link.
7. He kissed her on the lips.
8. It’s a low risk investment.
9. The building is in the middle of the block.
10. He’s going to flip his lid! (get very angry or excited)
11. To risk is to live.
12. Jim made a killing last year. ( made a big profit)
13. I’ve been there. ( I have had the same experience.)
14. They mean business! ( very serious)
15. It suddenly hit me! ( I suddenly realized something)
16. Keep it simple.
17. Give me a ring sometime. (call me sometime)
18. Make a wish.
19. What’s the minimum wage?
20. It’s a hit ! (It’s a success!)
21. Take your pick! ( choose whichever you want)
22. We finished in the nick of time. ( we finished right at the deadline)
23. I need a quick fix. ( a quick solution)
24. This puzzle is tricky.
25. Let’s pinpoint the kinks in the system. (let’s identify the imperfections in the system)
F. Distinguishing between /i/ and /I/ :
Hearing and saying the difference between /i/ and /I/ is often quite difficult at first. This exercise will help you produce each sound distinctly and accurately. Be patient. Mastering this distinction often takes a lot of time and practice. Remember that the main difference between /i/ and /I/ is the height and tension of your tongue. The center of the tongue is slightly lower and more relaxed when you say /I/. In addition, the lips are spread on /i/ but not on /I/ .
Listen and repeat the following pairs of words: