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English Pronunciation Pod 68

Saturday Sept 18th, 2010
Recognizing the Vowel /ɚ/ by its Spelling.
This podcast teaches you how to recognize the vowel /ɚ/ by its spelling and offers practice exercises
for using this vowel in your everyday speech.


In this weeks' podcast, we're going to continue to learn and practice the important vowel /ɚ/-
/ɚ/ as in the words "sir" and "early".

*I recommend that you listen to podcast #66 before this one! Podcast 66 explains how to pronounce
/ɚ/ in full detail.

The focus of today's lesson is:

  • learning how to recognize /ɚ/ by its spelling.
  • learning the most common spelling patterns and the exceptions.
  • Practicing these patterns in some key words and phrases.
Why it is important to Learn the Spelling Patterns of the Vowels in English?

In your native language, the way the word is written is almost always the way it's pronounced.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case in Engilsh.
There are five vowel letters-a,e,i,o and u, but there are fifteen vowels sounds!
One of the most challenging aspects of English pronunciation is that one vowel can have a few
different spellings, so it's important to learn the most common spelling patterns of a vowel,
as well as the exceptions.
Learning these spelling patterns will make your pronunciation much more accurate and will make it easier
to determine the pronunciation of a wordwhen you're reading.

The Most Common Spelling Patterns of /ɚ/:

Spelling pattern #1- <er>:  

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words containing /ɚ /spelled <er>

her ... were ... person ... serve...

Spelling pattern #2 /ɚ/ spelled <ur>

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following words containing /ɚ/ spelled <ur>:

fur... turn ... church ... urban...

Spelling pattern #3 /ɚ/ spelled <ir>

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following words containing /ɚ/ spelled <ir>:

sir ... bird ... first ... girl ...

Exceptional Spellings Patterns of /ɚ/
Looking at these words, you might not think that they were pronounced /ɚ/ , so it's important to learn them.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words:

Exceptional spelling pattern: <or>

work ... worse ... attorney ... world ...

Exceptional spelling pattern <ear>

heard ... learn ... early ... search ...

More exceptional cases: The vowel sounds in the following words are pronounced /ɚ /

journal ... journey ... iron /ajɬn/

English is a mix of various languages and this resulted in some of the strange spelling patterns
that we learned today.
One of the best ways to memorize these spellings is to use them in sentences.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following American expression containing exceptional spellings of /ɚ/

I tried to iron out the problem. (fix or settle a conflict)

Success is journey, not a destination.

Now that you've become aware of the various spelling patterns of /ɚ /,I encourage you to practice this sound
as often as possible.

Practice is Key!

Mastering the /ɚ/ sound takes time and practice.

But the key to mastering this sound is slow repettive practice on a daily basis. You have to repeat and repeat until you develop what's known as muscle memory- the ability to do something automatically, without thinking.
Accent reduction is a lot like physical activities such as sports, dancing or playing an instrument.
You have to first do it slowly and correctly in order to do it quicly and correctly.

In other words, you need training!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

If you want more practice exercises like the one in this podcast and are interested in learning all of the the sounds of English, I recommend that you try my full English pronunciation course in mp3-Best Accent Training mp3s!

No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need
for speaking English clearly and correctly.

All the sounds of English in one course!

Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go!

I specifically designed it for that purpose.

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

Please donate to English pronunciation Pod!

Your support helps make English Pronunciation Pod free and accessible to anybody who wants to improve their accent!

Thank you and see you next time!


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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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