22: Review all the sounds covered so far

Wow, you've been busy learning! Don't lose the important knowledge of English pronunciation that you've gained. It's review day!


Hi everyone! Welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation podcast. If you are new to this podcast, my name is Mandy.

Today I am going to review all the sounds we've talked about so far. Of the 43 sounds we teach at Seattle Learning Academy, I've taught 33 of them so far. If you've been listening since the beginning, I hope this will remind you of any sounds you wanted to go back to and practice some more.

If you haven't heard all the podcasts from the beginning yet, this will be a good one to listen to so you can decide which ones you might like to go back and listen to.

The transcripts for this show will have links to all the sounds we've covered.

Sounds are divided into the major categories of consonant sounds and vowel sounds.

Let's talk first about the consonant sounds and their categories. I've put a chart along with the transcripts to this show to make is easier to understand all of the categories of sound.

The voiced th and unvoiced th, the f sound, v sound, sh sound, zh sound, s sound, and z sound are fricatives. The only fricative I haven't talked about yet is the h sound. I did talk a little about the h sound in podcast number 16 "Reduced Pronouns". A fricative is a continuous sound that is created by allowing only a small amount of air to leave the mouth, which causes friction, and sound. Except for the h sound, all the fricatives have voiced and unvoiced counterparts. A voiced sound uses our vocal cords along with the shape of the vocal tract to produce the sound. An unvoiced sound only uses the vocal tract to create the sound.

Here are just the voiced fricative sounds:


voiced th (voiced th)
v sound (v sound)
zh sound (zh sound)
z sound (z sound)


And here are the unvoiced fricative sounds:


unvoiced th (unvoiced th)
f sound (f sound)
sh sound (sh sound)
s sound (s sound)


Episodes 1, 3, 17, and 18 cover these fricative sounds in depth.

The w sound and y sound are called semi-vowels, or glide sounds because they have similarities to vowel sounds. Most issues with these two sounds happen when a bit of friction happens during the w sound, which most native English speakers will hear as a v sound. Listen to episode 7 for a review of the y sound and w sound.

The r sound and l sound are liquid sounds. It is important to remember that the l sound happens by placing the tip of the tongue against the tooth ridge, just behind the upper front teeth, and the r sound happens at the back of the mouth, using the back of the tongue, just above the opening from the throat. Another aspect of the r sound is r-controlled vowels, which are certain vowel sounds that happen when an r follows a vowel. We have four specific r-controlled vowels to be aware of, the schwa+r, ar sound, air sound, and or sound. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 cover the l sound, r sound, and r-controlled vowels in depth.

There are a number of sounds in the category of stops, but the only ones we've covered so far are the d sound and t sound. In episode 2, I talked about how to correctly say these sounds without retroflexing, or placing the tip of your tongue too far back in your mouth during these sounds, and in episode 19 I talked about correct pronunciation of the -ed ending.

We have talked about all 15 vowel sounds already. I use the categories of long vowel, short vowel and other vowel to talk about the vowel sounds. In the English alphabet, there are 5 vowels, a, e, i, o, and u. Our long vowel sounds sound like those letter names. I have given each vowel sound a key word to help compare and contrast the vowel sounds. Each key word is three sounds long, with the vowel sound in the middle. Here is the sound and key word for each long vowel sound.


long a (long a) cake
long e (long e) keep
long i (long i) bike
long o (long o) home
long u (long u) cute


Long vowels can be reviewed in episode 8.

Short vowels do not necessarily take any less time to say than the long vowels. "Long" and "short" is just a name that was given to these sounds long ago. We have 5 short vowel sounds which correspond to the 5 vowels of the alphabet. Here is the sound and key word for each short vowel sound.


short a (short a) cat
short e (short e) bed
short i (short i) sit
short o (short o) top
short u (short u) sun


Short vowels can be reviewed in episode 9.

The category of "other vowels" is for the left over 5 vowel sounds. These are the aw sound, oi sound, ow sound, oo sound, and u as in put sound. Here is the sound and key word for each other vowel sound.


aw sound (aw sound) dog
oi sound (oi sound) join
ow sound (ow sound) down
oo sound (oo sound) soon
u as in put (u as in put) put


Other vowels can be reviewed in episodes 10 and 11.

There are the first 33 of the 43 sounds SLA teaches. I announced in a promotional podcast earlier this week that you can now buy MP3 files of all the sound lists from the Pronuncian website for just $10 US. This will give you more than 4 and a half hours of audio practice that you can easily put on your iPod or MP3 player. You will also get a PDF file of all the lists of sounds. This is a really great way to practice those sounds you find most difficult.

If you have been thinking about buying the book Pronunciation Pages: Sounds of American English, you can now get all these additional MP3 files for just $5 more. The book is still $25, but for $30 you can have the book and all the additional files. The book always comes with online access to more than a hundred online exercises. If you find this podcast helpful I hope you'll consider buying the MP3 files or the book to help support the show.

That's it for today, everyone. I hope you found this review helpful, whether you are a new listener or if you have been listening from the beginning. I will have a link to the word list practice for these sounds along with the transcripts for this episode. You can find free word lists and transcripts at www.pronuncian.com. You can also email me comments or requests at podcast@p-r-o-n-u-n-c-i-a-n.com.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. SLA is where the world comes to learn. Thanks again for listening.