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Learning English - Pronunciation tips
 
The sounds of English
 
When writing English we use the 26 letters of the alphabet. However, when speaking there are roughly 44 different sounds in English.

If you're concentrating on the sounds of English, you need 44 characters to represent them all. One way of doing this is to use a common group of sound symbols. It has some extra characters which represent the sounds in English for which there is no clear equivalent letter or letters.

Writing with sound symbols
You can use these symbols to write out the pronunciation of words and in many dictionaries for English learners you will see the pronunciation written out. To show that what is written are sounds and not letters the transcriptions are written between slashes, / /.

For example, the pronunciation of the word 'pet' is written:
/pet/

There are different kinds of sounds, consonants and vowels.

 
Downloads
Click on the symbols below to download A4 posters of the symbols with examples. Format pdf 14k

Consonant sounds:
There are 24 of these. 16 of these are in voiced and unvoiced pairs.

Unvoiced Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme
Voiced Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme
                 
Other Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme

Vowel Sounds.
There are 20 vowel sounds, five of these are 'long' sounds and eight are diphthongs (double sounds)

Short Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme
                 
Long phoneme phoneme phoneme phoneme phoneme
                 
Diphthongs Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme Phoneme

Exercise:
Every letter of the alphabet when said individually contains a vowel sound. In this exercise you have to match the letter to the vowel sound. This download contains the answers.

Sounds of the alphabet exercise (20k)

 

Listen to the sounds
To listen to the sounds, follow the link below.

The chart will open in a new window and requires Flash. Its size is 144k so it may take a while to load depending on your connection speed.

Sound symbol chart with audio >>

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 CONTENTS
 
 
 Introduction
 
 
 Resources
 
 
 The sounds of English
 
 
 Radio programme 1
 
 
 Radio programme 2
 
 
 Radio programme 3
 
 
 Similar sounds
 
 
 Unit 1: Key and Pin
 
 
 Unit 2: Book and Do
 
 
 Unit 3: Door and Coat
 
 
 Unit 4: Egg, Cat and Cup
 
 
 Unit 5: Sock and Coat
 
 
 Building knowledge
 
 
 Sounds and spelling
 
 
 Schwa
 
 
 Connected speech
 
 
 
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