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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 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.

Sound like a Native Speaker: WHEN & WHAT QUESTIONS

In this lesson I’ll teach you FAST native speaker pronunciation. We’ll look at how when native speakers are relaxed and talking fast, individual sounds in a sentence may change completely. This happens because our tongues naturally want to say everything the laziest way possible! I’ll give you plenty of examples of the sounds in words changing when spoken quickly and I’ll also teach you some IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). We’ll also practice speaking with the right intonation when asking questions, as this is really important not only to convey the right meaning, but also to get the correct rhythm in your speech. In under 15 minutes, you will be able to start sounding more like a native English speaker.

Follow my lessons to develop a clear Accent, 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.

Lesson 31: More /w/ Consonant Blends Pronunciation

/w/ Consonant Blends: Practice Your Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will practice consonant blends that include the /w/ sound. We will learn the spelling and pronunciation of words spelt with ‘tw’, ‘sw’ and ‘dw’.

We will also learn the spelling patterns of words spelt with a ‘w’ that is not pronounced. 

This lesson is Part Two on the /w/ sound. For Part One of this lesson, CLICK HERE.

Practice Consonant Blends /tw/

tweezers: I lost my tweezers twice

Practice Consonant Blends /sw/

swear: I swear I saw swans swimming

Practice Consonant Blends /dw/

dwell: the Elves dwell in Rivendell

Spelt ‘wr’ pronounced as /r/ (no /w/ sound)

wren: when will I see a wren again?

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

Lesson 30: Practice /w/

/w/ Sound: Practice Advanced Vocabulary and Pronunciation

In today’s lesson, we are going to practice /w/. Compared to many sounds in English, /w/ has some nice and tidy spelling and pronunciation patterns, which makes life a lot easier for us.

The <wh> Diagraph Explained

The <wh> Diagraph refers to words that are spelt with the spelling pattern ‘wh’ such as: whale, white, wheel, whirl. It also includes the question words: what, when, where, which, whether and why.

When these words are pronounced in Standard English, the letter ‘h’ that is present in the spelling is not pronounced. This is because the pronunciation of this group of words has changed since the spelling was originally set.

The original pronunciation of the <wh> diagraph is /hw/. For example, hwale, hwite, hweel, hwirl. Notice how in the original pronunciation, the /h/ sound is before the /w/. It would have made more sense when the spelling was standardised to spell this diagraph as /hw/ not /wh/!

In some dialects of Irish, Scottish and Southern American, the /hw/ original pronunciation is still present, e.g. ‘Did you see the white whale?’ (Note: in the recording, that’s my Irish accent).

The /hw/ pronunciation also used to be a typical feature of the posh English accent pre-1950’s, e.g. ‘Mr White, what exactly may I do for you?’ (Note: that’s my old-fashioned posh accent in the audio).


Practice /w/

beware: beware of the river by the watery weir

word: your word is your wand

way: where there’s a will, there’s a way

Spelt ‘wh’ Pronounced as /w/

whale: Captain Ahab and the White Whale

whine: She’s whining because the wine’s all gone

whisper: When a man with whiskers whispers, it tickles

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

Lesson 29: Tricky Spellings with ‘R’ and Practice /r/ Words

Listen to today’s lesson: Advanced /r/ Words

In this lesson, we will practice advanced vocabulary with tricky spellings that include the letter ‘r’. The first section includes words with silent ‘r’ in which no /r/ sound is pronounced. After the first section, most of the words include an /r/ sound that is pronounced. English Jade subscribers should follow along with the lesson PDF to see the spelling and IPA transcription of each example word.

Pronunciation Note on /r/

The /r/ sound as represented by the letter ‘r’ is a sound that many non-native speakers of English struggle to get right. This is either because /r/ doesn’t exist in speaker’s native language, e.g. Japanese and some dialects of Chinese, or because /r/ is pronounced differently in the speaker’s native language. 

To give an example, Spanish speakers of English often mispronounce the /r/ sound. This is because in Spanish the /r/ sound is trilled. When pronouncing a trilled /r/ the tongue rolls against the alveolar ridge multiple times which vibrates the sound of the /r/. A trilled /r/ sounds sexy in English, but in terms of pronunciation it is incorrect. 

Another variation in the pronunciation of /r/ is the flapped /r/ which is found in most Scottish dialects and South African English. The flapped /r/ is close to the trilled /r/ in that it is pronounced by making contact with the alveolar ridge. However, the flapped /r/ only makes contact with the ridge once as it glides past it. Here is an example of me speaking the Elvish language with a flapped /r/: ‘“Ennyn Durin Aran Moria.’ 

And finally, In Standard British English we have what’s called a ‘Standard English R’. In linguistics, it is called the postalveolar approximant. When making this /r/ sound the tongue tip gets very close to the alveolar ridge but it does not vibrate against it. You can still hear vibrations coming from the vocal chords but it is nothing like the strength of vibrations in the trilled /r/ in Spanish.

All that’s rather technical. The best way to get to grips with /r/ is to listen closely and then practice. So here we go!


Practice the Pronunciation of silent /r/

fibre: figs are high in fibre

lustre: the lustre of Royal Worcester

meagre: a meagre diet of gruel

Practice /r/ words with tricky spellings

wraith: the nine ring wraiths

wreak: one day I will wreak my revenge

rhinoceros: God only knows the rhinoceros’ nose

catarrh: phlegm and catarrh, aargh!

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