The English pronunciation test that you will take in today’s lesson is one that most students fail. Take the test to find out how good your English pronunciation is. Simply follow along with the lesson video below and pronounce each one of the 13 difficult words aloud when it appears on the screen.
How Good Is Your Pronunciation?
Passing this pronunciation test requires you to pronounce all 13 words in the Standard British English form, which is the way that I pronounce them in the video. Where most students go wrong with the 13 difficult words is that they pronounce them in the same way they are spelt. For example, students incorrectly pronounce the word ‘oven’ with an ‘o’ sound (usually /əʊ/) instead of the correct vowel that the word contains. The word ‘oven’ in fact contains more of a ‘u’ sound, which in phonetics is shown by the symbol /ʌ/.
English Pronunciation Test Notes
All 13 words share the same pronunciation issue that causes students of English to mispronounce them. To pronounce these words correctly you must avoid pronouncing the highlighted vowels with an ‘o’ sound. In addition, some of the test words are commonly misread / mispronounced due to another issue with the spelling. Where this is the case, I have added extra notes on the pronunciation (see below).
/mʌnθ/ ‘month’ is also difficult to pronounce because of the ‘th’ sound /θ/ at the end of the word.
/ˈʌ.vən/ The word ‘oven’ exists in many of the world’s languages. If the word is the same in your native language, you will likely need to adapt your vowel sound when pronouncing it in English.
/ˈkʌm.pə.ni/ Speakers of the Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian) frequently mispronounce this common word.
/ɡlʌv/ This word contains a short vowel.
/ˈwʌr.i/ To pronounce ‘worry’ correctly in future, it might help you change the spelling in your imagination to ‘wurry‘. Notice that ‘worry’ and ‘curry’ rhyme.
/ˈɡʌv.ən.mənt/ Notice that no /r/ is pronounced in this word in Standard English. Also make sure that the final syllable is pronounced unstressed; it should not sound the same as the word ‘meant’ (past tense of ‘mean’).
/ˈtrʌb.əl/ In the word ‘trouble’, the <ou> spelling pattern represents the /ʌ/vowel.
/ˈkʌr.ɪdʒ/ In the word ‘courage’, the <ou> spelling pattern represents the /ʌ/ vowel. Make sure that the vowel you pronounce in this word is short. A second issue with this word is the <age> suffix, which is pronounced /ɪʤ/.
/tʌf/ ‘Tough’ is a difficult word for intermediate students because of the confusing <ough> spelling. If you change the spelling to ‘tuf’ in your imagination, it will help!
/flʌd/ The word ‘flood’ is commonly mispronounced as containing a long vowel sound. Confusingly, some words containing <oo> spelling are pronounced short, and others long. For a lesson on this issue, see my video on Food VS Good.
/tʌŋ/ Notice that ‘tongue’ is a one-syllable word. Also notice that there is no ‘g’ sound at the end of it.
/ˈsʌð.ən/ The word ‘southern’ is commonly mispronounced due to its relation with the word ‘south’ /saʊθ/. A second reason that ‘southern’ is difficult to pronounce is because it contains a final ‘th’ sound /ð/.
/ˈhɪk.ʌp/ The word ‘hiccough’ does not contain the word ‘cough’ /kɒf/ in its pronunciation. The spelling used here is the British English one, whereas ‘hiccup’ is American English.
How Good Is YOUR Pronunciation: Final Thoughts
The vast majority of English students fail this pronunciation test because they pronounce English words in the same way they are spelt. In my experience as a teacher, only students who have studied English pronunciation to an advanced level are able to pass the above test.
The problem with marking your own pronunciation test, however, is that your untrained ears may not be able to discern any difference between your pronunciation and mine. If that’s the case, then you might think that you passed the test, when in actuality you failed! This is why you may want to consider having your pronunciation professionally assessed by me; more information about my accent assessment test here.
To conclude, I want to remind you that most students fail this pronunciation test. Therefore, don’t be upset with yourself for failing it. Reaching the highest level of English pronunciation takes time. But with my articles, lesson videos and courses, you can attain the highest level of spoken English.
Extend Your Learning
▶︎ Study my “How to Speak British” lesson. Learn my quick tips for improving your accent.
▶︎ Present your best self in English by taking my British Accent course.