Let’s play with English pronunciation!
English pronunciation can be pretty strange sometimes.
Some groups of letters can sound completely different from one word to another!
It’s important to train your ear, so you can understand (and participate) in real life conversation, like the lessons in Understand Real American English.
So today, we’re going to play a game together, about the English pronunciation of some common words.
Are you ready?
— The extra mile —
For this lesson, I took some inspiration on a fun poem called The Chaos, by Gerard Nolst Trenité. This Dutch author and traveler felt the same frustrations as you, about the way English is spelled and pronounced!
1. English Pronunciation game: “ea”
In English, the vowels “ea” together can have a lot of different pronunciations.
For example, it might sound like:
So here’s a first game for you.
How do you pronounce the word at the end of these sentences?
- When you exercise, you often sweat.
- At least, that’s what I heard.
- When I exercise too much, I can end up in tears.
- I’m afraid a muscle might tear!
Watch the video lesson to listen to the correct answer.
Notice how ea in a tear (in your eyes when you cry) sounds the same as in a seat.
While the verb to tear (= to damage) rhymes with a bear.
You can’t trust the way words are written! You also need to train your hear to understand the sounds, even for everyday words.
That’s why you’ll also get pronunciation exercises in my Understand Real American English program. Comprehension and pronunciation are two sides of the same coin!
— The extra mile —
To tear also rhymes with the verb to wear.
You can wear clothes, of course. But wear (the noun) also means “damage.”
Both the noun “wear” and the verb “to wear” rhyme with the verb “to tear.”
My car is in good condition, there’s only a little wear and tear. = some light damages that come from everyday use.
2. English Pronunciation Game: Rapid fire
For our second game, let’s go all in!
Below (and in the video lesson), you’ll find a list of common words. You’re sure to hear and use them in real conversations. And you’ll definitely hear them in the lessons of Understand Real American English.
Remember, improving your pronunciation will also improve your listening comprehension: you’ll have a better ear for everything!
So here are the words. Can you pronounce them?
Say them out loud, before listening to their correct pronunciation in the video lesson!
- A pipe
- A recipe
- A cough
Congratulations! You did it!
As you can see, there are a lot of different pronunciations for the group of letters “ough.” You can find more about that in my special lesson: Pronunciations of -ough in English.
How many words did you pronounce correctly?
If it’s more than 10, give yourself a gold star, yay!
Otherwise… Try it again! No shame in that! We learn by repeating and by doing!
3. English Pronunciation Game: My Story, and Lessons To Go Further
When I arrived in France, I thought I knew a lot about the language…
But real life isn’t so easy! Usually, I would start having a conversation in French, with the words I knew well. But after a few minutes, the other person would always speak too fast for me!
The biggest problem was pronunciation. Either because I couldn’t understand… or because they couldn’t understand me.
It’s the same in American English. Understanding clean “movie-English” isn’t enough. Taking only written lessons isn’t enough. That’s why I created Understand Real American English: so that you can listen to real authentic conversations. And train your ear with my practical explanations and activities to test your listening skills. And then improve your own pronunciation too, with practical exercises based on authentic American pronunciation.
You can also start improving your pronunciation right now with my other lessons on the topic.
- English Pronunciation: 4 VERY embarrassing mistakes!
- Pronunciation of “i” in American English
- Hot to Improve your Pronunciation in English
- Pronunciation of “to” in English
- English Pronunciation: How to pronounce (63) verbs that end in -ed
Thanks so much for improving your English with me, and I’ll see you in the next video!
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