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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 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.

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.

Lesson 24 of English Jade teaches you the pronunciation of the ‘you’ sound /ju:/ in English. The /ju:/ sound is not recognised as a unique phoneme, though it is a common sound in English.  In this lesson you will practice the /ju:/ sound in example words and phrases. Note: This speaking skills training to practice /ju:/ is for high-level professionals. Follow this training to improve your pronunciation, accent and clear speech.

Click the audio player link below to listen to this podcast lesson on how to pronounce the /ju:/ sound in example words and phrases. Here are a few example words taken from the lesson:


youth

excuse

union

nutrition

assume

news

rescue

Tuesday


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