English Pronunciation Podcast
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English Pronunciation Pod 81

Saturday Mar 12th, 2011
The Vowels: /i/ vs. /I/ "eat" vs."it".
Learn how to pronounce these two vowels distinctly and correctly.


In this week's podcast, we're going to review two important vowel sounds of English. /i/ as in "eat" and /I/ as in "it".
Being able to hear and say the subtle difference between these two vowel sounds is an important part of speaking
English clearly and correctly.

Mastering this vowel distinction can be quite challenging. Many students of English make the mistake of replacing the /I/ sound
with the /i/ sound. For example, instead of staying "it " they might say something that sounds like "eat".

Still other students make the opposite mistake. Instead of saying "eat", they say something like "it".
It often depends on what your first language is. In any case, this can be confusing to your listener.

To a native speaker of English, these are two completely different sounds, so mastering them is key.

The focus of this week's podcast is:
  • Learning how to pronounce the vowels /i/ and /I/ correctly and distinctly.
  • Practicing these sounds in some key words and a special accent reduction training exercise

How to pronounce /i/:

tongue: high, forward and tense

Lips: spread

Exercise: Please listen and repeat: /i/ ... /i/

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following words containing /i/:

eat... beat ... scene / seen... ease... reach...

Next, we're going to learn how to pronounce /I/. This is one of the most common vowel sounds in English.

You may have noticed that /I/ appears in common structure words, grammatical words such as "it", "this",
"if", "in" and "is."

It's also a sound which is used in vowel reduction. For more lessons on vowel reduction,
try my full English pronunciation course in mp3- Best Accent Training.

How to pronounce : /I/

tongue: high and forward but it slightly lower than it is for /i/.

/I/ is more relaxed than /i/. Relax the center of your tongue and feel the air flow over it .

lips: neutral (not spread, not forward)

Listen and repeat: /I/... /I/...

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following words containing /I/:

it ... bit ... sin... is... rich

Long Vowel vs. Short Vowel??

We're going to do another exercise for distinguishing between /i/ and /I/ but before we do that,
I want to address a common misconception about the difference. Students are often told by their teachers
that the difference between /i/ and /I/ is that /i/ is a long vowel and /I/ is a short vowel

However, this is not exactly true. The real difference between i and /I/ has nothing to do with how long the vowel is.
The real difference is the position and tension level of the tongue and lips as I've just shown you.
It 's possible for /i/ to be a long vowel. A vowel is only long if it is on a stressed syllable.

For example- "begin". "Begin" has two vowels- the first vowel is /i/; the second vowel is /I/. But notice how the second vowel
is longer than the first becasue it falls on the stressed syllable. The length of a vowel, how long a vowel is, relates to
syllable stress and not the vowel itself. Any vowel can be long or short.

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following pairs of words:

The words are exactly the same except for the vowel sound. The first word contains /i/ and the second contains /I/.
Listen and repeat each pair, paying careful attention to the difference in vowel sounds.
Remember for /I/, your tongue is slightly lower and more relaxed than it is for /i/.

/i/                              /I/

eat                             it

beat                         bit

scene/seen             sin

ease                          is

reach                       rich.

Learning the difference between/ i/ and /I/ is a gradual process,
but if you work at it regularly and practice as often as you can, you're going to improve!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

Accent reduction is primarily a physical activity . It's important to have the right training tools for better pronunciation.

That's why 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 get mp3 lessons on every vowel of English, every consonant, 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!  Download it here!

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

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)

Get the full accent reduction course in mp3 now


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