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Saturday February 28th, 2008
English Pronunciation Podcast 25-
The Vowel /oʊ/
: This podcast teaches you how to pronounce an important vowel in English: /oʊ /. Special Training exercises will help you master this essential sound so that you sound like an American speaker.


In this weeks' podcast, we're going to learn how to pronounce the vowel /oʊ/ with a standard American accent.
Most languages of the world have an /o/sound. However the "o" in most languages of the world is actually quite different than the American /oʊ/.

The focus of today's lesson is:

  • learning how to pronounce /oʊ/ with a standard American accent
  • learning how to position your tongue, lips and jaw so your /oʊ/ sounds like an Americans'
  • to understand and hear the difference between the /o/ in your native language and the American /oʊ/

How to articulate / oʊ / correctly:

/oʊ/ is a combination of /ə/+ /u/ .
* We're going to blend /ə/ and /u/ to make /oʊ/.

tongue: begins in a relaxed position, very much like /ə/.
From this position we move into /u/-,back portion of tongue moves back and up. (tip stays flat.)

lips: begin relaxed and open- move into a tense, puckered position (like you're kissing. )

jaw: begins relaxed and somewhat open.Think of somebody sleeping with their mouth open. From there, it gradually closes.

Exercise: Listen and repeat /ə / + /u/ broken into two parts

/ə / + /u/

Exercise: Blend the two parts together slowly. Please Listen and repeat.

/ə /... /u/

Exercise: Listen and repeat /oʊ/ at a normal rate of speech


The American /oʊ/ is diiferent!

There is a subtle difference between the "international /o/"and the American /oʊ/ .
When you're pronouncing the American /oʊ/, it's important to remember to begin in the open and relaxed position.

Avoid these common mistakes:
The most commom mistake that I see students make is that they begin with their lips to tight and too tense. So I recommend that you use a mirror to check your position when you start.
Looking in the mirror, make sure that your mouth is somewhat open and that your lips are relaxed.
From that open and relaxed postion , move into /u/. Tension comes only at the very end of the sound when you're finishing in /u/.

Another common mistake that you want to avoid is not moving your tongue far back enough into /u/.
I often hear students pronounce /ou/ like /?/,so they have the first part but not the second part. The word "most" might sound like /m?st/.
That vowel doesn't exist in English, so it can be confusing to the listener. Be sure that you finish the vowel.
Be sure that you finish the second half of the vowel- the /u/. Bring your tongue all the way back.

In general, be aware that American vowels often require a lot more movement and tension than vowels in other languages.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words containing /oʊ/:

home... close. .. know .. don't .. most ... road. .. boat .. coat ... coast ... show .. .own ... throw ...

As you can see, /oʊ/ can be spelled in a variety of ways. Future podcasts will focus on the most common and exceptional spelling patterns of /oʊ/ .
The focus of this week's podcast is to learn how to position your tongue correctly to produce /oʊ/.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following American expressions and idioms which contain /oʊ/:

I'd like to make a toast. (make a short speech before drinking)
How much do I owe?
Don't blow it. (Don't fail, ruin it)
Take a load off. (sit down, relax)

As you can see, there is a subtle difference betwen the American /oʊ/ and the /o/ found in most languages around the world.

Perhaps you've been substituting the/ o/ from your native language for the American /oʊ/.

But its never too late to change! With the right amount of practice and training you can begin to say /oʊ/ with an American accent !

Changing the way you speak, means practicing regularly. If you can find just ten or fifteen minutes a day to practice the new sounds, you'll begin to hear some differences in the way that you speak!

It's important to have good training materials:

I recommend  Best Accent Training mp3s!
Download Best Accent Training onto your mp3 player and practice wherever you go!

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

Thank you and see you next time!


After practicing with Best Accent Training daily,
I can say that my English communication has improved 100%. "

- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

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