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70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation that was devised in the 19th century as a standardised way of representing the sounds of speech in written form. The British English IPA chart consists of 44 symbols representing the pure vowels (monophthongs), the gliding vowels (diphthongs), and the consonant sounds of spoken British English. The Britlish Library contains a wealth of lessons to help you to learn, remember, and use the British English IPA symbols efficiently whether you are a student or a teacher.

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10 of our 70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons

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Vowel in Bear / eə /

Activate the Vowel in Bear / eə / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the third of the gliding vowels / eə /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / eə / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / eə / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / eə / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / eə / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: AIR, ARE, A, AR, AE and EAR and rarely EIR, ERE, AYOR, AYER, and ER. This can be a huge problem for students as words like ear and bear, and are and rare, have the same letter combinations but completely different sounds. The only other vowel sound that can cause confusion with the / eə / sound is the / ɪə / sound, and I covered this in Pronunciation Activation Pack 13 – The Vowel in Ear. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack I’ll look at words which have the same letter combinations as give us the / eə / sound but which have different pronunciations. Pronunciation Activation Pack - 15 The Vowel in Bear / eə /


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Vowel in Bird / ɜː /

Activate the The Vowel in Bird / ɜː / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the seventh of the pure vowels / ɜː /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ɜː / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ɜː / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ɜː / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / ɜː / - The long vowel sound / ɜː / can be found in the following letter combinations: ER, EER, UR, URR, IR, YR, YRR, W+OR, EAR, OUR, and rarely OLO, EU and EUR.


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Vowel in Boat / əʊ /

Activate the Vowel in Boat / əʊ / with this Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the seventh gliding vowel / əʊ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / əʊ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / əʊ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / əʊ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / əʊ / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: O, OE, OW, OA, and OU, and rarely OUGH, and EAU. There are two other vowel sounds which cause confusion with the / əʊ / sound. These are the / ɔː / and the / ɒ / pure vowel sounds. I looked at the minimal pairs / ɔː / vs / əʊ / in Pronunciation Activation Pack 8 – the Vowel in Horse, so I will not cover it in this lesson. As I promised in Pronunciation Activation Pack 12 – the Vowel in Clock, I will look at the / ɒ / vs / əʊ / minimal pairs in this lesson.


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Vowel in Clock / ɒ /

Activate the Vowel in Clock / ɒ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the last of the pure vowels / ɒ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ɒ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ɒ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ɒ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / ɒ / - This short vowel sound has these letter combinations: O, A (following /w/), OU, OW, AU, and ACH. There are four other vowel sounds that cause confusion with the / ɒ / sound. I won’t be repeating minimal pairs in this Pronunciation Activation Pack. Instead, I’ll look at the / ɒ / vs / ɑː / minimal pairs. I will look at the / ɒ / vs / əʊ / minimal pairs when we look at the / əʊ / gliding vowel sound later in this course.


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Vowel in Ear / ɪə /

Activate the Vowel in Ear / ɪə / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the first of the gliding vowels / ɪə /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ɪə / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ɪə / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ɪə / sound correctly. Now is a good time to introduce you to the concept of linking sounds in British English pronunciation. Spoken English is like a chain of sounds joined together in short sections. If we keep the sections linked, it sounds right. If we break these sections apart, it sounds wrong. Each link in the chain will be either a vowel or a consonant, and they can be joined in a number of ways. Because we are looking at a gliding vowel / ɪə /, we will look at vowel sound to vowel sound links in this Pronunciation Activation Pack. 


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Vowel in Egg / e /

Activate the Vowel in Egg / e / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the fifth of the pure vowels / e /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / e / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / e / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / e / sound correctly. The short pure vowel sound / e / can be formed by these letter combinations: E, EA, A, and rarely U, AI, EI, EO, and IE. There are some vowel sounds in minimal pairs which can cause confusion with the / e / sound for students.


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Vowel in Eye / aɪ /

Activate the Vowel in Eye / aɪ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the sixth of the gliding vowels / aɪ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / aɪ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / aɪ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / aɪ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / aɪ / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: I, IE, Y, YE, IGH, and rarely EYE, EIGH, EI, AI, UY, and AE. There are no other vowel sounds that have the potential to cause confusion with the / aɪ / sound. However, because the / aɪ / sound has a large number of letter combinations, in this Pronunciation Activation Pack I’ll look at the spelling of words with the / aɪ / sound in them.


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Vowel in Food / uː /

Activate the Vowel in Food / uː / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the fourth of the pure vowels / uː /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / uː / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / uː / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / uː / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / uː / The long pure vowel sound / uː / can be formed by these letter combinations: U, OO, O, OU, EW, UE, UI, and OW. A minimal pair is a pair of words which are almost the same except for one different sound, in this case, the vowel sound. There are very few minimal pairs in English using the / uː / sound which can confuse learners. 


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Vowel in Horse / ɔː /

Activate the The Vowel in Horse / ɔː / with this Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the eighth of the pure vowels / ɔː /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ɔː / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ɔː / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ɔː / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / ɔː / - The long vowel sound / ɔː / can be found in the following letter combinations: AR, OR, ORE, OUR, OAR, OOR, AU, AUGH, A, AL, AWE, OUGH, OU, OA, and WOR. There are three other vowel sounds that cause confusion with the / ɔː / sound. These are the short pure vowel / ɒ /, and the gliding vowels / əʊ / and / aʊ /. I will focus on these minimal pairs in this Pronunciation Activation Pack. For more information about minimal pairs, look again at Pronunciation Activation Packs 1, 2, and 3. 


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Vowel in Insect / I /

Learn to distinguish and produce the vowel in Insect / I / with this Pronunciation Activation Pack. The biggest problem for students is hearing and producing the difference between the vowel / ɪ / and the schwa / ə /. These two sounds are next to each other on the IPA chart and are thus very similar. Both vowels are common in unstressed syllables and even native speakers have trouble distinguishing them. The schwa / ə / rarely carries stress. The Pronunciation Activator and Listening Activator will help you practice using minimal pairs containing the vowel/ ɪ / and the schwa / ə /.


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10 of our 70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons


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