English Pronunciation Exercises - Short Vowels and Consonants

Students studying
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The following series of pronunciation exercises combines words beginning with the same consonant sound followed by similar vowel sounds. Voiced and voiceless consonants are paired (b - voiced / p - voiceless, d - voiced / t - voiceless, etc.) to help students compare and contrast similar consonant formation. Pairing similar phonemes to improve pronunciation skills is also known as the use of minimal pairs. Minimal pairs change words by one phoneme so that the basic pronunciation pattern remains the same with one slight - minimal - difference. This allows students to really focus in on the slight difference in jaw, tongue, or lip placement needed to make the various phonemes.

  1. Repeat each line slowly, listen for the minor differences between the vowel and consonant sounds.
  2. Repeat each line three times. Each time repeat more quickly trying to keep the sounds distinct.
  3. Find a partner and listen to each other repeat the lines.
  4. Try to invent sentences using each sound at least once. For example: The big bat bet he could beat the others. - Don't worry too much about the sentence making much sense!
ih - pronounced 'ih' as in 'hit' ee - pronounced 'ee' as in 'see' eh - pronounced 'eh' as in 'let' ae - pronounced 'ae' as in 'cat'
big beat bet bat
pig peep pet pat
did deal death dad
tip teeth tell tap
gill gee! get gap
kill keep kept cat
sip see set sat
zip zeal zeppelin zap
ship sheet shelf shaft
gin jeep jell jack
chip cheek chess chat
hit heat help hat

Vowel Sounds

'eh' - as in 'let', 'ih' - as in 'hit', 'ee' - as in 'see', and 'ae'- as in 'cat'
'long ah' - as in 'car', 'short ah' - as in 'got'
'long uh' - as in 'put', 'short uh' - as in 'up', 'oo' - as in 'through'

Diphthong Sounds

'ay' - as in 'day', 'ai' - as in 'sky'
'ou' - as in 'home', 'ow' - as in 'mouse', 'oi' - as in 'boy'
'ieh(r)' - as in 'near', 'ehi(r)' - as in 'hair'