Free English Pronunciation and Accent Reduction Lessons
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Saturday April 18th, 2009
In this week's podcast, we're going to learn about "stop" and "continuant" consonants.
Learning the difference between "stop" and "continuant"consonants will make your pronunciation more accurate and will make your accent sound more like a native speaker.
If your first language is Spanish, French, Korean or Japanese, this lesson is especially important , but everybody needs to know the difference between stop consonants and continuant consonants. It's a necessary part of anybody's education.
If you want to pronounce each consonant of English clearly and correctly, you must have an understanding of what we mean by "stop" and "continuant" consonants.
Once you understand this difference, it becomes much easier to pronounce the consonants of English exactly like a native speaker.
The focus of this week's podcast is:
Today's podcast, however, is an overview of the consonants, categorizing them into "stops" and "continuants". This is important background information which will be very useful in future.
What are Stop and Continuant Consonants?
So let's begin by explaining what exactly stop and continuant consonants are.
Simply put, stop consonants involve stopping the air flow completely and then releasing it in order to make sound. We generally stop the air using our tongue or lips.
Exercise : Hearing and Saying the Difference between "stops" and "continuants":
Let's try to hear and say the difference between a stop and continuant consonant.
Let's choose two consonants which students sometimes confuse: /v/ and /b/
How to pronounce /v/: Gently bring your lower lip to your upper teeth and exhale.
Please listen and repeat: /v/ ... /v/ ...
Notice how when we say the sound /v/, the air flows continuously between our lower lip and our upper teeth. Because the air flows continuously, /v/ is a continuant consonant.
Now, lets say the sound /b/ like in "berry".
How to pronounce /b/: Bring your lips together, let the air pressure build and release.
Please listen and repeat: /b/... /b/ ...
Notice how when we say the sound /b,/ we stop the air completely with our lips and then release it.
/b/ is a "stop" sound because we stop the air flow with our lips.
Although the positions of our lips and teeth are slightly similar for /b/ and /v/, there is a difference and to the ears of an American, this is an important difference in pronunciation.
Not making a clear distinction between /b/ and/ v/ is a common mistake that many students make, especially if their first language is Spanish or Japanese.
But if you make sure that you stop the air completely with your lips on /b/, and let the air flow through the space betwen your teeth and lips on / v,/ then you will correct this mistake and improve the clarity of your English pronunciation.
It will be very clear to your listener if you are saying "very" or "berry", "boat" or "vote".
Exercise:Hearing and saying the difference between /b / and /v/:
Please listen and repeat, paying careful attention to your form,stopping the air with your lips on /b/ and letting the air flow through your lips and teeth on /v/:
berry... very ... boat ... vote ...
Here's another example, showing the difference between stop and continuant consonants.
Say the sound /dʒ/, like in the words" just" or "virgin".
How to Pronounce /dʒ/: Press your tongue tip against your gum ridge, stopping the air completely, let the pressure build for a second and then release. The gum ridge is the bump on the roof of your mouth.
Please listen and repeat: /dʒ/ ... /dʒ/
Notice how when we say the sound /dʒ/, we first stop the air completely by pressing our tongue against the the gum ridge (bump on the roof of our mouth). Pressing our tongue against the gum ridge, we block all air flow, let the pressure build for a split second and then release.
Please listen and repeat the following words containing /dʒ/:
Now let's try saying the sound /ʒ/ like in "usual" ... "version".
How to pronounce /ʒ/: Bring your tongue tip up and somewhat forward near the ridge, creating a small hole for the air to flow through.
Please listen and repeat: /ʒ/
Notice how when we say the sound /ʒ/, we raise our tongue to the gum ridge but we let the air flow continuously throught the small hole which we've created between our tongue tip and the roof of our mouth. We don't stop the air with our tongue tip.
Please listen and repeat the following words containing /ʒ/:
Although the position of our tongue is somewhat similar in these two sounds, there is a difference due to the way we stop the air on /dʒ/ or let the air flow continuously on /ʒ. To the ears of an Ameican, this is an important difference in pronunciation.
Not making a clear difference between /dʒ/ and /ʒ/ is a common mistake that many students make, especially if their first language is French or Korean. So for example "virgin" sound like "version".
Exercise: Hearing and saying the difference between /dʒ / and /ʒ/:
virgin ... version ...virgin ...version
Let's look at the consonants of English and divide them into the categories of stops and continunants.
The StopsExercise: Here are the consonants which contain stops: I'm going to say the sound and then a word containing the sound. Please listen and repeat:
/b/... baby, /d/ ...doll, /g/...google, /k/... coke, /p/... paper, /t/... total, /tʃ/... chain, /dʒ/... judge, /m/... moment , /n/... no , /ŋ/... song
*Please note that for /dg/ and /tʃ/, we begin with a stop,stopping the air with our tongue and release it with a codntinuant sound. It's a actually a stop and then a continuant.
*/m,/n/,/ŋ/ Also please note that for these sounds, the air is stopped by our tongue or lips but is flowing through our nose instead of our mouths. These are called nasal sounds for that reason.
All consonants will be discussed in detail in future podcasts. The purpose of today's lesson is to categorize them according to stops and continuants.
Exercise: Here are the consonants which are continuants. Please listen and repeat:
/s/...sell,./ʃ/... shoe, /f/...fun, /v/... vote, ./ʒ/ ...usual, /θ/...think, /ð /... this, /h/... help, /l/... list, /r/...right, /w/...when, /y/...yes
Why is this Important for My Pronunciation?
It's important to master the differences between stop and continuant consonants because many students of English often confuse and substitute a continuant sound for a stop sound or a stop sound for a continuant sound. This is just one of several factors which can result in an accent. It can also be quite confusing to the listener.
In future podcasts, I'm going to teach you some of these commomly confused consonants. As I mentioned before, the mistakes students make are often based on their first language, so I'm also going to tell you which mistakes you should pay extra attention to based on what your fist language is.
Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:
Until then, if you're interested in learning all the consonants of English, I recommend that you check it out my English Pronunciation course in mp3 format- Best Accent Training mp3s
Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the consonants of English with step by step instructions and practice exercisess.
You'll also get all the vowels of English, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!
Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put onto your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go!
I specially designed it for that purpose!
Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and see you next time!Share
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