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Lesson 45: Practice /p/

Practice /p/ Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of the /p/ sound in English. /p/ is a what’s known as a plosive consonant, which means that this sound is made by blocking the flow of air and then releasing it in a puff of air: /p/ is for puff.

Of all the consonants in English, /p/ is the peskiest because it doesn’t get on well with microphones. If a /p/ sound is made too close to a microphone, the recorded sound pops. When making a /p/ sound, the lips release air with a burst, which causes disruption in the air, and in turn, affects the microphone. Fingers crossed, I can get through this lesson without recording any annoying p-pops!

Here’s what you need to know about making a /p/ sound:

  • /p/ is a plosive consonant: air is stopped and then released
  • the place of articulation is the lips: purse the lips and then release the pressure
  • /p/ is a voiceless consonant: the vocal cords don’t vibrate 
  • the /p/ (voiceless) and /b/ (voiced) consonants are usually learnt as a pair
  • /p/ is a widespread sound that is present in many of the world’s languages
  • There is no /p/ in Arabic, therefore Arabic native speakers often have difficulty articulating this sound, replacing it with /b/.

So far, so good. You may be thinking that learning /p/ is going to be easy. Learning /p/ is easy – but only up to a point.

As you know already, a puff of air is released when making a /p/ sound: /p/ = plosive.

In linguistics, this puff of air is called aspiration. 

Here’s where learning /p/ gets tricky. /p/ is not aspirated equally in all positions of a word. Observe the following examples (bold text shows aspirated /p/):

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Mom and Pop, may I have some apple pie and whipped cream, pretty please?

You need sensitive ears to hear the difference between aspirated and unaspirated /p/ in the examples. Don’t worry if you can’t hear the difference between the two types of /p/ right now – just keep listening because practice makes perfect. 

The Rules of Aspirating /p/ 

  • Aspirated and unaspirated /p/ sound slightly different, but even so they are still classed as the same consonant
  • /p/ is always aspirated at the beginning of a word: Peter, puff, plosive
  • /p/ is aspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable: support, approve, apply
  • /p/ is unaspirated in <sp> words: spit, sport, spoon 
  • /p/ is unaspirated in <spr> words: spray, sprint, spring 
  • /p/ is unaspirated at the end of a word (it still sounds like a /p/ but there is no forceful puff of air): cop, map, mop 

What I have just explained is likely to be linguistics overload for most of you. If you want to keep things simple, just don’t exaggerate the /p/ sound at the end of words. For example, don’t say coP, maP, moP.


Practice /p/ Words and Phrases: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

stop: once you pop, you can’t stop

pretty: pretty as a peach

person: a people person

parent: proud parents

pressure: pile on the pressure

Lesson 44: Unusual /k/ Spellings (Part Four)

English Jade: Practice /k/ Advanced Spellings

In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of the /k/ sound in English in words that have unusual spellings. This lesson is Part Four of Four on /k/.

In the previous lessons on /k/ you learnt:

  • /k/ is the most diverse consonant in terms of spelling patterns
  • /k/ is often spelt with the letter ‘c’
  • a letter /k/ in a word’s spelling is always pronounced /k/

Many of the example words in this lesson are foreign loan words.


Practice Unusual /k/ Words: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

Iraq: In Iraq, women are clad in burqas and nicabs

qwerty: thirty dirty qwerty keyboards

quick: ask a squid a quick question

quiche: quiche recipe

equinox: spring equinox

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 43: /k/ Spelt ‘k’ (Part Three)

English Jade: Practice /k/

In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of the /k/ sound in English when it is spelt with the letter ‘k’. This lesson is Part Three of Four on the /k/ sound.

Let’s refresh how to make a /k/ sound…

Articulating the /k/ Sound

  • /k/ and /g/ are articulated in the same place.
  • /k/ is an unvoiced consonant: you hear the sound of air being released.
  • /k/ is a stop consonant: the flow of air is temporarily blocked before it is released.
  • /k/ is a velar consonant, which means the sound is made by making contact with the soft palate (the roof of the mouth towards the back).

Now let’s warm up the /k/ sound…

k = /kə kə kə/ 

kit kat = /ˈkɪt.kæt ˈkɪt.kæt ˈkɪt.kæt / 

tick-tock = /ˌtɪk ˈtɒk ˌtɪk ˈtɒk ˌtɪk ˈtɒk/


Practice /k/ Spelt ‘k’: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording:

kick: kick the bucket

kin: kith and kin are all invited

knickknack: granny’s knickknacks

outlook: the outlook is bleak

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 42: More /k/ Spelt ‘c’ (Part Two)

English Jade: Practice /k/

In this lesson, we will continue learning the pronunciation and spelling of the /k/ sound in English when it is spelt with the letter ‘c’. This time we are focusing on consonant clusters, which occur when more than one consonant is pronounced in succession, such as when <scr> in a word’s spelling is pronounced /scr/. This lesson is Part Two of Four on the /k/ sound.

We will learn the following spelling and pronunciation patterns in this lesson:

  1. consonant cluster <scu> is usually pronounced with the /ʌ/ vowel:

scum               scuff              scurry                sculpt                   scuffle

  • consonant cluster <cl> is pronounced /kl/:

clap                 clasp                 clown                  clock                    clean

  • consonant cluster <cr> is pronounced /kr/:

crown                crow                  cream                create                   cry

  • consonant cluster /ct/ is pronounced /kt/

act                     direct                 fact                     object                  elect         

  • in <lc> medial words, the /l/ and /k/ are in separate syllables:

falcon             alcove                welcome             alcohol              volcano

  • in <rc> medial words, the /r/ and /k/ are in separate syllables:

Note: /r/ is not pronounced in Standard British English

circuit              circus                 Arctic                 narcotic              arcade    


Practice /k/ Spelt ‘c’: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording:

scuff: skidding scuffs your shoes

clean: clean clogs

cream: the cream of the crop

insect: infested with infectious insects

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 41: K Sound Part One

English Jade: Practice /k/

In this lesson, we will begin learning the pronunciation and spelling of the /k/ sound in English. Learning /k/ is going to take us a while, as it has the most spelling patterns of all the consonants. This lesson is Part One of Four and will focus on words spelt with a letter ‘c’ that are pronounced as /k/.

The Madness of English

As you know from following these English Jade lessons, English is not a phonetic language. This means that the way we spell words often doesn’t match the way we pronounce them. In English Jade, I teach you the spelling and pronunciation hacks to help you to make sense of the English language. Without these rules, you will inevitably make a lot of mistakes.

  • To pronounce words correctly in English, you need to know IPA.
  • An IPA transcription shows you the correct pronunciation of a word, whereas English spelling often doesn’t.
  • To read words correctly in English, you also need to know the spelling patterns of words. 
  • Some of the symbols in the IPA are unique, which means they don’t have letters that represent them in the English alphabet, e.g. /ʃ/ is a unique sound/symbol.
  • The letters in the English alphabet are not all represented by a symbol in the IPA.

The last point is particularly important when it comes to learning the /k/ sound. This is because there is no symbol in the shape of a letter ‘c’ in the IPA. When you see a letter ‘c’ in a word’s spelling, this often (but not always) represents a /k/ sound in the IPA:


The rules of pronouncing <c> as /k/

  1. Most words ending with <c> have the <-ic> suffix:  

tragic            traffic            sceptic             erotic                   clinic         

  • Some abbreviated words end with <c>:

doc                     sec                     pic                     mac                    spec

  • <c> before /əl/ at the end of nouns and verbs = /kəl/:

circle               cycle                   uncle               tentacle            spectacle

  • the <-icle> suffix:

particle             cubicle              vehicle            icicle                article

  • the letter <c> usually comes before the letters <a> , <o> or <u>

cab                      cane                   case                  cave                 cargo

con                      code                   cork                  combat            cowboy

cut                       cube                  cuff                   cushion          custard    

  • the letter <c> before <ur> represents the /ɜː/vowel:

curb                    curve                curtain               curse              curfew


Practice /k/: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

cosmic: cosmic comics

toxic: toxic relationship

antagonistic: antagonistic agnostic

sec: wait a sec

miracle: a miracle cure

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 40: /ŋ/ Sound in ‘King’

English Jade: Practice Ng Sound /ŋ/

In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of the /ŋ/ sound in English. This phoneme is not represented by a letter in the English alphabet. Therefore, it is necessary to memorise the /ŋ/ sound along with its unique symbol when learning IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). The way I remember the /ŋ/ sound symbol is by imagining the shape of an elephant’s trunk:

The rules of pronouncing /ŋ/

  • /ŋ/ is spelt <ng> at the end of a word          

king                lung             bring               strong                wrong    

  • /ŋ/ is spelt <n> before a <k>

bank               hunk            skunk                junk                   punk

  • a letter <n> before <g> or <k> becomes /ŋ/

finger              ginger           fungus            drunken             bunker

  • the –ing suffix in gerunds and present participles includes an /ŋ/ sound:

playing           running        laughing          writing             shouting

  • the /ŋ/ sound never begins a word in English

How to Pronounce /ŋ/

/ŋ/ is a nasal consonant, meaning that the sound comes out through the nose. To make this sound, you put the back of your tongue against the velar (the soft tissue at the back of the throat). The position is slightly further back and higher up than for /g/ and /k/. When the back of the tongue is in this position, it blocks air from passing out the mouth. This then makes the /ŋ/ sound come out through your nose. 

/ŋ/ is a voiced consonant: you feel vibrations in the throat

/ŋ/ is a nasal consonant: you feel buzzing in your nose


Practice Soft /g/: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

bang: bang the drum

gong: the gong‘s gone wrong

king: English king

kangaroo: kangaroos and dingoes

slang: Cockney rhyming slang

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 39: Soft ‘g’

English Jade: Practice Soft /g/

In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of soft <g> words. These are words that are spelt with a letter ‘g’ but pronounced with a /dʒ/ sound.

Let me break this down for you because it can be confusing.

The /dʒ/ sound is in my name, ‘Jade Joddle’ /eɪd ɒd.əl/. As you can see from the example of my name, the /dʒ/ sound is most commonly spelt with a letter ‘j’ in English.

However, the /dʒ/ sound is also spelt with a letter ‘g’ in some words. When this occurs, it is called a soft <g>. Here are some examples:

general                    /ˈdʒen.ər.əl/

giant                         /ˈdʒaɪ.ənt/

gym                           /dʒɪm/

age                             /eɪdʒ/

digit                          /ˈdɪdʒ.ɪt/ 

manage                   /ˈmæn.ɪdʒ/

Non-native speakers of English often mispronounce words with the letter ‘g’ in them because they don’t know the soft <g> and hard <g> rules of pronunciation. Here are two pronunciation rules for you to know:

  1. When <g> meets a, o, or u, its sound is usually hard.
  2. When <g> meets e, i, or y, its sound is usually soft.

However, as is usual with English pronunciation, there are plenty of exceptions to these rules. But don’t worry because I’m going to teach you the main ones!


Practice Soft ‘g’: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

allergic: allergic reaction

gigantic: gigantic giraffe

energetic: energetic gym session

large: large gorge

genetic: genetic engineering

Lesson 38: Hard ‘g’ (Part Two of Two)

English Jade: Practice Hard /g/

In this lesson, we will continue learning the pronunciation and spelling patterns of words with a /g/ sound. This topic is also known as the pronunciation of hard <g>. Learn Hard /g/ Part One.

We will learn and practice the following rules for hard <g>:

  • The /g/ sound spelt as <gu>

 guilt       guitar     guy

  • The /g/ sound spelt as <gue>

 guest     guess     catalogue

  • The /g/ sound spelt as <gh> in foreign loan words. 

 ghost     ghetto   dinghy

  • The /g/ + /z/ spelt as <x>

 exist       exam      exit


Practice Hard /g/: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

guy: that guy’s guitar

guess: your guess is as good as mine

colleague: Colleen’s colleagues from the college

ghee: Gita cooks aloo gobi with ghee

exam: Alexander passed his exam

Brexit: Brits and their Brexit

Progress without Stress

Do you push yourself hard to develop your English or speaking skills? While it is good to have ambition when it comes to improving your English skills, it’s important to take care that you’re not diffusing your energy. In this podcast episode of English Jade, I provide an example of a diffused approach to learning English, and teach you how to avoid making this common mistake. Follow my advice to progress without stress.

Get the first four lessons of English Jade for free by becoming a subscriber: CLICK HERE.

Lesson 36: /z/ Phoneme Spelt as ‘s’ (Part Two)

Letter ‘s’ Pronounced as /z/: Practice your Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will learn words with a /z/ sound that are spelt with the letter ‘s’. This lesson is Part Two of Two lessons on the /z/ sound. Listen to Part One.

Here’s a surprising fact: /z/ spelt as ‘s’ is the most common spelling for the /z/ sound.

Before we begin, let’s compare /z/ and /s/. The two sounds are similar because:

/z/ and /s/ are both sibilant sounds(hissing sounds)

What is the difference between the two sounds?

/z/ is a voiced consonant (you hear vibrations coming from the throat)

/s/ is an unvoiced consonant (you hear the sound of air being forced out)

There is also a difference in the manner of articulation between /z/ and /s/. When I pronounce a /z/ sound, the tip of my tongue is down behind my front teeth. In contrast, when I pronounce a /s/ sound, the tip of my tongue points up behind the front teeth, leaving a small gap for air to pass through.

Note on the audio: if you listen closely to the audio examples in this lesson, you will hear that a /z/ at the end of a word sometimes doesn’t like a pure /z/ sound because a small lispy or aspirated sound of air passing out can be heard. This is due to a fault in my pronunciation, as in natural speech, my tongue does not hold the /z/ position long enough. Ideally, there should be no sound of air passing out.     


Practice /z/ Spelt with ‘s’: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

Note: the /z/ sounds are in bold in the examples below…

as: as red as a rose

has: has he got his ham sandwiches

those: whose beads are those

wise: as wise as a wizard

diagnose: doctors diagnose diseases

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 35: Pronounce and Spell /z/, Part One

/z/ Phoneme Words: Practice your Pronunciation

In today’s lesson, we will learn and practice the /z/ phoneme. The IPA symbol for /z/ is the same as the letter ‘z’ in the English alphabet. That’s helpful for us as we don’t need to learn a new symbol. However, here’s where things get confusing… The commonest spelling of the /z/ sound in English is with the letter ‘s’. What?!

The /z/ phoneme is the common pronunciation of many plurals spelt with an ‘-s’: 

dogs, guns, kids, and legs.

The /z/ phoneme is also in many common words spelt with a letter ‘s’: 

because, as, has, his, and was.

But note: a letter ‘s’ never represents a /z/ sound at the beginning of a word. Think of zebra, zip, zoo and zero. All those /z/ words begin with a letter ‘z’. That’s easy for us to understand as it makes sense.

One last interesting fact is that the letter ‘z’ is the least common letter in the English alphabet. When /z/ is spelt with the letter ‘z’, it happens in words we don’t use very often (low-frequency words). However, /z/ is still a relatively common sound in spoken English, despite the fact the letter ‘z’ is rare. That’s because as we have already learnt, /z/ is often spelt with the letter ‘s’.


Practice /z/: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

zinc: eggs contain zinc

Amazon: Amazon’s Jeff Bezo’s has zillions of dollars

lazy: a dozen lazy wizards

razor: disposable razor

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

The Slow Learner Advantage

Being a slow learner results in frustration when it comes to developing one’s fluency or accent. However, there is also an advantage to being a slow learner, which I share with you in today’s podcast motivation lesson of English Jade.

Do you need some support to improve your accent and speaking skills? Check out my Clear Accent course, CLICK HERE.

Lesson 34: More /ʃ/ Sh, Part Two

/ʃ/ Phoneme Words: Practice your Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will continue learning advanced vocabulary and spelling patterns for the /ʃ/ ‘sh’ sound in English. The /ʃ/ sound has a wide variety of spellings. This lesson covers the spelling and pronunciation patterns that we did not learn in the previous lesson. Listen to Part One.


Practice /ʃ/ Sh: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

ancient: ancient Grecian temple

facial: are facials beneficial?

chalet: every chalet has its own chef

sachet: a sachet of sugar

schmooze: dinner party schmoozing

ocean: crustaceans from the ocean

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 33: Pronounce and Spell /ʃ/ Sh, Part One

/ʃ/ Sound: Practice your Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will practice the /ʃ/ sound. Buckle your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen because this lesson’s going to be difficult. That’s because there are a variety of spellings for the /ʃ/ sound in English. Due to this we have many spelling patterns to learn. 

Before we begin practising the /ʃ/ sound, I want to make sure that you’re pronouncing it correctly. This is the sound we make when someone’s having a conversation in the library and we want them to be quiet, ‘Shush!’. You’re getting this sound wrong if it sounds lispy, wet or spitty. What we want to hear instead is a short, sharp burst: sh, sh, sh

To make this sound, your jaw should be slightly open so that you have a gap of about 4mm between your top and bottom teeth. Place your tongue tip lightly but firmly where the two front teeth meet. Your tongue should be tense with the back of the tongue raised up (you may not be able to feel the position the back of the tongue is in). Now, when you force air out, air will pass around the sides of the tongue to create a /ʃ/ sound: sh, sh, sh.

Let’s compare /ʃ/ to sounds it is sometimes confused with:

  • If you hear /s/ in ‘say’ then your tongue is too high and you need to bring it down.
  • If you hear ‘zh’ /ʒ/ as in ‘vision’ your tongue is in the correct place. However, the difference is that /ʒ/ is a voiced sound, which means you can hear vibrations from the vocal tract. In contrast, for /ʃ/ which is unvoiced, you only hear the sound of air being forced out.
  • If you hear ‘ch’ /ʧ/ as in ‘chair’ your tongue is in the correct place but the airflow is different. /ʧ/ is different because it begins with a stop before the air is released. This means there is a short built up of pressure by the tongue just before it is released.

One more time practising /ʃ/:

When pronouncing /ʃ/ you will hear the sound of friction as air is pushed out. /ʃ/ is a fricative consonant.


Practice /ʃ/ Sh: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

cash: stash some of this cash

gash: the knife slashed a gash on his shin

shell: she sells seashells on the seashore

shrimp: the short shelf life of shrimp

polish: don’t forget to polish the Polish dresser

selfish: selfish people are not at all ashamed about it

Lesson 32: Pronounce and Spell /ʒ/ (zh)

/ʒ/ (zh) Sound Practice

In this lesson, we will practice the least frequent sound in English, /ʒ/. The /ʒ/ phoneme is found in words that have roots in the Romance languages or Latin. Most of the words in this lesson came into English via French (the Anglo-Norman dialect), which was the language spoken by the nobility in England following the Norman conquest in 1066. If you have ever wondered why there are so many French words in English, it’s because from the 12th-15th century, the administrative language of the royal court in England was French. This is why so many French origin words used in English are terms related to power, politics and the law. It’s also why French origin words in English still carry an air of sophistication and gravitas, unlike Anglo-Saxon origin words, which being the speech of the common man, carried in them no inherent authority.

Learn About French-origin Words in English

The sound /ʒ/ does not have a specific letter or digraph that is commonly associated with it.

diagraph = two successive letters that represent a single sound, e.g. the letters ch are a common digraph of the /tʃ/ sound: chair, choose, church 

This makes /ʒ/ a difficult sound to learn, as the spelling and pronunciation patterns must be memorised. This lesson is titled (zh) because the /ʒ/ phoneme character does not represent any of the English letters.

Pronunciation note:

/ʒ/ is a lot more distinct when it is the final consonant position in a word, for example:

massage                                    /ˈmæs.ɑːʒ/

rouge                                         /ruːʒ/

garage                                        /ˈɡær.ɑːʒ/

In contrast, when /ʒ/ is in any position before the final consonant it is more subtle, for example:

decision                                   /dɪˈsɪʒ.ən/

television                                /ˈtel.ɪ.vɪʒ.ən/

treasure                                    /ˈtreʒ.ə/ 


Practice /ʒ/ (zh): Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

aversion: I have an aversion to confusion

division: division of labour

unusual: unusual visuals

leisure: the pleasure of leisure time

rouge: red rouge on top of beige foundation

concierge: tip the concierge

The examples above make a lot more sense when you have the lesson notes to read along with. Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.