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English Jade: Learn Advanced /b/ Spelling and Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will continue to practice the pronunciation and spelling of the /b/ sound in English. We will also learn silent ‘b’ words and consonant blends including ‘b’. Before we begin, here’s a quick summary on how to articulate /b/:

Articulating /b/

  • /b/ is stop consonant: the flow of air is stopped and then released to make a sound
  • the place of articulation is the lips: purse the lips and then release the pressure
  • /b/ is a voiced consonant: the vocal cords vibrate (no puff of air is released like it is for /p/)
  • the /b/ (voiced) and /p/ (voiceless) consonants are usually learnt as a pair
  • /b/ and /p/ are pronounced with the same part of the lips

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

blonde: blue-eyed blonde

blotchy: blotchy spots and blemishes

brown: the brown broom’s bristles

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

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.

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.