Listen to All the English Sounds - Vowels & consonants

Get to know your English Pronunciation with this introduction to English Sounds.

Listen to all the sounds in English – listen to vowel sounds, consonant sounds and some word stress.

English is not a phonetic language. This means that we can’t know exactly how to pronounce a word by the spelling.

English has over 40 sounds. There are two types of sounds; vowel sounds and consonant sounds. Click to listen to each vowel sound and consonant sound by itself and in words. You’ll listen to the 3 types of English vowels – long vowels, short vowels and English diphthong vowels. 

Record your speech and compare it with the native speaker. Please note these tools may not work on mobile devices.

As a non-native speaker it is likely that making some of these sounds correctly when you speak will be difficult for you. A Speech Active course guides you through correcting the sounds that you find difficult.  Correcting these areas of English pronunciation will make your speech more like a native English speaker and make it easy for people to understand your English. The tool below will help you improve your English sounds, listening skills and awareness of syllable stress.

Also use this page to improve / revise the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). The IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) is extremely useful for improving your English pronunciation. Remember – /:/ mean a long vowel, two vowel symbols means an English diphthong vowel (or double vowel), /ˈ/ indicates the next syllable is stressed. 

Listen carefully to the sounds you make.

 

English Vowel Sounds

 

Short Vowels

/ɪ/
hit | pick | miss | tip
/e/
let | neck | mess | wet
/æ/
sat | back | hat | cap
/ɒ/
hot | sock | boss | top
/ʌ/
cut | luck | fuss | cup
/ʊ/
put | look | cook | good

/ə/
This vowel is in many weak syllables:
apart | pilot | carrot | minute

Listen to English Long Vowels

Now, let’s try the long vowels. Pay careful attention to the length of each long English vowel sound as you listen.

/i:/
heat | peak | piece | leap
/a:/
start | dark | laugh | ask
/u:/
suit | threw | juice | soon
/ɔ:/
caught | pork | horse | form
/ɜ:/
hurt | work | nurse | sir

Listen to English Diphthong Vowels / English Double Vowels

Some of these vowels won’t exist in your first language. Because of this you may be mispronouncing them.

Listen and compare! As you listen to and record each double vowel, check you are you making the first vowel AND the second vowel too. When many non-native speakers say a word like ‘phone’ they often leave out the 2nd vowel in the diphthong. The vowel in ‘phone’ is /oʊ/, but they pronounce the /o/ and not the /ʊ/. As you go through, feel the two positions in each double vowel.   

/aɪ/
light | like | rice | ripe

/eɪ/
late | lake | race | train

/ɔɪ/
boy | choice | voice | noise

/aʊ/
about | found | house | down

/oʊ/
note | coke | hose | phone

/ɪə/
hear | near | fear | beer

/eə/
hair | share | pear | chair

/ʊə/
pure | tour | lure | cure

English Consonant Sounds

Listen carefully to each English consonant sound as you make them. Think about the position of your mouth as you make each consonant sound.  With a Speech Active Course you will perfect all the consonant sounds that speakers of your first language find challenging. 

Pay particular attention to consonant sounds at the ends of words. Non-native speakers sometimes leave off important end sounds and this results in unclear pronunciation and sounding like you have poor grammar (past tense and plural endings). See this article on improving your pronunciation of sounds at the ends of English words

Listen to all the Consonant Sounds in English. Record yourself and compare. 

/p/ pay | happy | cup

/b/ bay | trouble | rub

/t/ tip | letter | sat

/d/ dip | ladder | sad

/k/ came | talking | back

/g/ game | bigger | bag

/f/ fine | offer | off

/v/ vine | saving | of

/θ/ thin | method | both

/ð/ then | other | with

/s/ sue | missing | face

/z/ zoo | crazy | phase

/ʃ/ show | pushing | rush

/ʒ/ measure | asia | vision

/l/
love | follow | well

/m/
mail | humour | some

/n/
nail | funny | nine

/ŋ/
singer | sing

/h/
heal | perhaps

/r/
real | correct

/j/
you | beyond

/w/
we | showing

English Word Stress

The way we use the pitch of the voice to stress certain syllables in English is very important for speaking clearly. This makes the ‘music’ of English.

This is often a particularly difficult area for non-native speakers. With your Speech Active Course you will become a master of word stress, sentence stress and weak vowels. You’ll become an expert at hearing and making the correct rhythm and stress in English words and sentences.

Listen carefully to the up and down of the voice.

English Word Stress

politics
political
politicians

technique
technical
technology

economy
economic
economical

For other helpful tips and free resources:

 

Improve with our English Pronunciation videos on our Youtube channel and English Pronunciation tips on Facebook.

Listen to the pronunciation of words and see the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) at the Cambridge Online Dictionary.

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