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Saturday October 18th, 2008
English Pronunciation Podcast 7-
Vowels /æ/, /ɛ/ and /a
/: This podcast teaches you how to distinguish between these vowels.

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The focus of today's lesson is:

  • learning to distinguish between /æ/ and /ɛ/
  • learning to distinguish between /æ/ and /a/

Developing a clear distinction between / æ / and /ɛ/:

When pronouncing /æ /, be sure to drop your jaw, spread your lips and flatten and spread your tongue.
When pronouncing /ɛ/ your tongue should be somewhat raised and forward and your lips somewhat spread.The jaw is slightly lowered.

If you have not listened to podcasts #4 and #6, (how to pronounce /ɛ/ and /æ/ ), I strongly recommend you do so before trying the next exercise.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following pairs of words, paying careful attention to the difference in vowel sounds:

/æ/            /ɛ/

bad           bed

can          Ken

gas          guess

had          head

jam         gem

pan         pen

sad          said

tan            ten

Developing a clear distinction between /æ/ and /a/

Perhaps, many students incorrectly substitue /a/ for /æ/ because in their native language, the letter <a>is pronounced /a/. There are even some words in English in which the letter <a> is pronounced /a/.
For example: "watch".. ."father".
However, in American English, most of the time, a single letter <a> is pronounced /æ/ !

When pronouncing /a/, drop your jaw, keep your tongue flat and towards the back. Lips are neutral.
When pronouncing /æ/ you also drop your jaw, keep your tongue flat, spread and forward.Your lips are spread.

The difference: lips are spread and tongue is forward for /æ/.

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following pairs of words paying careful attention to the difference in vowel sounds:

/æ/            /a /

cap           cop

sack          sock

hat          hot

Dan          Don

stack     stock

map     mop

Hearing and prounouncing the difference between these vowels often takes time, practice and a lot of patience but with practice, you will get it!
The more you practice and repeat the exercises, the more you'll develop muscle memory- -the ability to so something without thinking- automatically.

Accent reduction is a lot like training in sports, music and dance:

Practice, repetition- training gives you results!

Looking for more practice? Try  Best Accent Training mp3s!

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

Thank you and see you next time!

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