Speak English Now Podcast: Learn English | Speak English without grammar.
Speak English Now Podcast: Learn English | Speak English without grammar.
#156 How to pronounce vowels in American English? ESL
10 minutes Posted Feb 4, 2021 at 9:45 am.
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Hi, everybody! I am Georgiana, your English teacher and founder of SpeakEnglishPodcast.com. My mission is to help you speak English fluently.

Today we will talk about how to pronounce vowels in English. And with a fun point of view story you will improve your grammar.

The truth is that vowels in English always represent a particular difficulty for many students.

But don't worry because there is a self-evident reason why this happens.

It turns out that in English, we have six vowel letters represented by the letters a, e, i, o, and u and fifteen vowel sounds. 

Fifteen vowel sounds? 

Yes. You see that's the real problem. 

In English, we don't read vowels as they are written, simply because the same vowel letter can be pronounced in different ways.

For example, we can pronounce vowel A in seven different ways.

Amazing, right?

We divide vowel sounds into three different categories:

Long vowels (we pronounce the long vowels the same as the letter.)

These are the long vowel sounds in American English: 

A /eɪ/, E /i/, I /ɑɪ/, O /oʊ/, U /yu/.


Steak   / steɪk /

Sleep  / slip / 

Bike    / baɪk /

Home / hoʊm /

Cute  / kyut /


Short vowels (have the most common sound for a single vowel spelling.)


  cat /kæt/

 bed /bɛd/ 

   sit /sɪt/ top /tɑp/

sun /sʌn/


Other vowels (the remaining vowel sounds)

     other u /ʊ/              Put /pʊt/

oo sound /u/           soon /sun/

aw sound /ɔ/           dog /dɔg/

oi sound /ɔɪ/           join /ʤɔɪn/

ow sound /aʊ/.   down /daʊn/


Ok, let’s continue.

I want to talk about the schwa (ə) sound.

What is Schwa?

The Schwa sound - is the most common vowel in English. 

We find this sound in almost all words with more than a syllable.


Doctor, about, the, center.

Schwa (ə) replaces any vowel in English if the vowel is unstressed. 

It also appears in words consisting of only one syllable: a, the, of.


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