When something is clearly black or white, or obviously large or small, or even hot or cold, the differences are quite obvious. However, the differences in American Standard pronunciation of vowel sounds are not so obvious and require some “ear training” to hear. Many of the vowel sounds in American Standard English do not even exist in other languages. Before even beginning to teach how to say the vowel sound, I always start by having the client listen to me say a simple, one-syllable word two times. I will randomly say it the same both times, or once the correct way and once the way the client would typically produce it. All they need to do is listen and tell if the two words were the same or different. For instance, if I was teaching the short ‘i’ vowel, I might say “bit”, then “beat”, or on another time “bit” then “bit”. Once it becomes clear to the client that these are two distinctly different sounds, I teach them how to make the “new” sound. Again, I find it extremely valuable for them to practice words containing the “new” sound, and then contrasting it by saying it in their “old” way. This method of contrasting different pronunciations of the same sound proves to be a valuable step in learning to pronounce new sounds.
About the Author
Derra Huxley, M.A.
Derra Huxley is a California licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Los Angeles having earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Northridge. You can also find her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. She specializes in Accent Modification, having been trained and certified to utilize the nationally acclaimed Compton P-ESL Program through the Institute of Language and Phonology. She has worked with adults with varying degrees of accents from around the globe to improve their pronunciation of English.
Common Pronunciation Traits in Accent Reduction for Individuals Who Speak Korean as Their First Language
Common Pronunciation Traits in Accent Reduction for Individuals Who Speak Spanish as Their First Language
Common Pronunciation Traits in Accent Reduction for Individuals from China
How to Choose an Accent Reduction Specialist