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English Pronunciation Pod 69

Saturday Oct 2 2010
The Vowel /aɚ/ as in "car" and "start"-
How to pronounce this important vowel sound of English:
Make your accent sound more American by using this common vowel sound of English.


In this week's podcast, we're going to learn how to pronounce an important and challenging vowel sound of American Englsh- /aɚ/,
as in the words "car" and "start". This sound is a variation of the vowel /ɚ/ which we've been studying in the past few podcasts.
This sound is distinctly American.
The sound /aɚ/ does not exist in many other languages and is therefore one of the most difficult sounds for English students to pronounce.

However, If you want to speak English with a standard American accent, it's important to learn how Americans pronounce this sound.

In fact, using this sound is considered to be a sign of an educated person so it's even more important to master it.

I strongly recommend that you listen to podcast #66 before using this one. Podcast #66 explains in full detail how to pronounce /ɚ/ which is
an essential part of pronouncing /aɚ/.

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • Learning how to pronounce the vowel sound /aɚ/.
  • Practicing this sound in some key American words, phrases and idioms.

How to pronounce /ɚ/ :

The vowel sound /aɚ/ is a combination of two sounds. It is a combination of /a/ + /ɚ/.

Tongue: Start with your tongue in the position for /a/.
You might remember from podcast #11 that for /a/, your tongue is flat and somewhat pulled back .
Say /a/ and then slowly curl your tongue tip backwards so that it points at the roof of your mouth.
Do not touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue tip.
When you finish, Feel the back sides of your tongue touching your back inner gums.

Jaw: Drops for /a/ and then gradually rises for /ɚ/ . There is movement .

First let's practice this sound in two steps. Feel the two positions which we will be blending together.

Step 1: /a/ Step 2: /ɚ/

Exercise: Listen and repeat:

/a/ ... /ɚ/

Now let's trying blending those sounds one into the other. Go slowly- it's the best way to master this sound .

Exercise: Please listen and repeat /ɚ/ paying careful attention to form:

/aɚ/ ... /aɚ/

Pronunciation Tips:

Here are some tips for pronouncing this vowel accurately:

Start with your tongue tip down start in the position of /a/.

Curling motion begins at the tip, not the back of the tongue.

Graduallly curl your tongue with the motion beginning at the tip, not the back.

Do not simply lift your tongue. Gradually curl it with the motion begining at the tip.

Slow gradual curling is the best way to learn this sound.

You can even use a mirror to watch the tip of you tongue gradually curl back.

Back sides of tongue make contact with inner gums/molars.

When you finish, make sure that you feel the back sides of your tongue pressing up against you back, inner gums and teeth.
Feel that contact on the back sides of the tongue.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words containing /aɚ/ paying careful attention to form:

car ... bar ... arm ... start ... heart

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following American expressions containing /aɚ/.

1.Whos' in charge here ?

2.Let's set the bar high. (set a high standard)

3. Do you accept credit cards?

4 I know it by heart. (I have it memorized)

Mastering the /aɚ/ sound takes time and practice.

But the key to mastering this sound is slow repetitive 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 quickly 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

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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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