English Pronunciation Pod 24

Podcast 24: Vowel Review /ə/, /a/ and /ɔ/

by Charles Becker


Saturday February 21st, 2009

Vowel Review /ə/, /a/ and /ɔ/
: This podcast reviews the vowels /ə /, /a/ and /ɔ/. The practice exercises and phrases will help you develop the ability to hear and pronounce the difference of these important vowels of English.

In this week’s podcast, we’re going to review three important vowels: the vowel /ə/, /a/ and /ɔ/.

These vowels were covered in detail in podcasts #10, 11 and 22.

If you haven’t listened to these podcasts, I strongly recommend that you do so before using this one.
If you’ve already listened to these podcasts, today will be an opportunity for you to review these sounds.
I have to stress the importance of reviewing past lessons. Reviewing past lessons is such an important part of accent reduction.

The focus of today’s lesson is:

  • learning how to distinguish between / ə /, /a/, and /ɔ/

It’s often difficult for students to hear and say the difference between these three vowels.
English students often substitute one vowel for another or substitute a vowel from their native language for one of these vowels.
So today we’re going to develop your ability to pronounce these vowels clearly and accurately, just like an American speaker would.

Review of the Rules of Articulation:

How to articulate / ə / correctly: (luck , but , some )

tongue: neutral, relaxed, center

lips: neutral

How to articulate /a / correctly:

tongue: flat, moves back

lips: neutral

jaw: drops

How to articulate / ɔ / correctly: (talk, coffee)

tongue: back , front portion is flat but back part rises slightly

lips: somewhat rounded

jaw: drops, lowers somewhat

Exercise listen and repeat the following vowels:

/ə/ … /a/ … /ɔ/ …

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following words. The words are exactly same except for the vowel sound. Pay careful attention to vowel quality.

/ə/   …     /a/   …       /ɔ/

cut …      cot …      caught …

done …   don …     dawn …

stuck …   stock …   stalk ..

color …   collar …    caller …

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following sentences:

I cut my finger when it got caught in the cot.

Don will be done by dawn.

The caller is complaining about the color of the collar.

The difference between these vowels sound is very subtle.
It’s not very obvious and it often takes a lot of time and practice until you can hear and say the difference accurately.
When your vowels become clear accurate and distinct, your ability to communicate in English greatly improves .
People will understand you much more easily and your accent will sound much more like an Americans’.

Developing an American accent takes a lot of practice but with regular practice, you will change the way that you speak.

The Key is Training !

Think of professional athletes and musicians and dancers – how do they get so good at what they do?

They practice their routines over and over again. Repetitive practice builds muscle memory.

Muscle memory is the ability to do something automatically- without thinking.

The same is true for accent reduction and English pronunciation !

Looking for more training materials ? Try  Best Accent Training mp3s!

Download  Best Accent Training mp3s onto your mp3 player, take it with you and practice wherever you go!

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:  contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!