English Pronunciation: The Secret to Learning 16 Sounds in Under 2 Minutes

Would you like to know a quick and easy way to master English pronunciation? What if you could learn 16 sounds in just under 2 minutes? Of course, you will still have to practice to master them, but I’m going to give you the secret of how it’s done.

The secret: it’s all in the voicing.

One of the most common challenges for second language learners trying to improve their spoken English is knowing the difference between voiced and unvoiced sounds. The beauty of this is that when you understand this concept, you have automatically figured out the differences in 8 pairs of sounds: s/z, p/b, t/d. f/v,k/g, sh/j, tch/dj, and voiced and voiceless th.

So, what exactly is the difference in these voiced and unvoiced sounds? Glad you asked!

Each pair of sounds has the exact same tongue, teeth, and mouth placement;the only difference is whether or not your voice is turned on.

To know if your voice is turned on, try this simple test. Put your hand gently over the front of your throat and breathe. Do you feel anything?No, you shouldn’t. Now, put your hand on your throat and say “ah”. Feel the vibration? That’s because your voice is turned on.

If you saw last week’s video, English Pronunciation of S and Z , then you’ve already learned the basics of voiced and unvoiced sounds. So, let’s just do a quick review.

We’ll try it with one pair of sounds: S and Z

Put your hand on your throat and say s-s-s-s-s. You shouldn’t feel anything.

Now, put your hand on your throat and say z-z-z-z-z. You should feel the vibration because your voice has to be turned on to make the Z sound.

Your mouth, teeth, and tongue should be in exactly the same position for saying S and Z; you just need to turn your voice off for the S and on for the Z. Does that make sense?

Now you can try it with the other pairs of sounds. I’ll list below which ones are voiced and which are unvoiced. And, there’s an audio download at the end for practice. Remember, for each pair, the mouth placement is the same; all that changes is the voicing.

Unvoiced Sounds and Voiced Sounds

  • s for sip and z for zip
  • bfor pat and b for bat
  • t for two and d for do
  • f for fine and v for vine
  • k for come and g for gum
  • sh for wishing and j for vision
  • tch for choose and dj for juice
  • th, as in thank and th, as in these

Practice sentences

  • Sip your drink before you zip up your coat.
  • Pat bought a new bat before the game.
  • I have two things on my list for you to do.
  • It is fine with me if you trim that vine.
  • Come here and I’ll give you some gum.
  • I’m wishing for a new vision for my future.
  • Did you choose the orange juice or milk?
  • Thank you for these tips!

The secret to these sounds is not such a secret any longer! Spend some time practicing these sound pairs, and you will be well on your way to mastering English pronunciation.

Not sure which sounds you should be practicing? Why don’t you take my free online speech and accent screening at http://www.losemyaccent.com? It only takes a few minutes, and you will get free tips on how to improve your pronunciation.