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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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Fur or Fir - Homophones

The two words fur and fir are homophones in English and cause a lot of pronunciation confusion for students. I mean, how can two words that are radically different have exactly the same sound? There are many homophones in English and this lesson is designed to help you master these two. Not only does it deal with the words fir and fur, but it also deals with words like furred, furry, furlike, furl, furlong, furlough, furnace, furniture, furore, further, fury, fire, firkin, firm, first, fifth, and firth. This lesson will help you to pronounce all of these words perfectly.


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Syllabic Consonants -ism

-ism is a suffix appended to the end of many English words. It means taking sides with or imitation of. Pronunciation-wise, -ism has a syllabic consonant /m/ at the end. In this lesson, we’ll look at how we pronounce some common isms. The -isms include, ageism, asceticism, atheism, Buddhism, capitalism, communism, Cubism, Druidism, dualism, Expressionism, Judaism, racism, Romanticism, sexism, and socialism.


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The Glottal Stop

This lesson will tell you what a glottal stop is and then tell you how to use it. A glottal stop is also known as the voiceless glottal plosive and it’s used in many languages besides English. In fact, you probably use it without being aware of it. The glottal stop is called the glottal stop because the sound is made when the vocal cords close and stop the flow of air. The gap between the vocal cords is called the glottis. The glottal stop is also known as the voiceless glottal plosive, which means their air flow is obstructed between the lungs and the mouth by the closing of the vocal cords. The most pronounced use of the glottal stop can be found in Cockney English where the glottal stop replaces the /p/, the /t/, and the /k/ sounds when they are preceded by a stressed vowel sound and are followed by an unstressed vowel sound.


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Words Ending in -cuit

There are only two English words which end with the -cuit letter combination and both cause pronunciation problems for students. This lesson will look at both words, circuit and biscuit, and show you how to correctly pronounce them. It will also look at some sentences and expressions which use these words and will look at the speech features in those sentences. Features like the linking R, syllabic consonants, and elision are highlighted and explained.


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Words Ending in the Syllabic Consonant -*n

A syllabic consonant is a consonant that is pronounced as a syllable. The two main syllabic consonants in English are /l/ or /n/ sounds. The /n/ in the final syllable of words occurs in words like listen, while the /l/ syllabic consonant occurs at the end of word such as bottle. Syllabic consonants occur mainly in the final syllable of words but can also occur at the beginning or within words, too. In this lesson, we will look at the 10 sounds that precede final-syllable /n/ syllabic consonants. I’ve taken 11 English words that have a final-syllable /n/ syllabic consonant sound. These are representative of the most common sound and letter combinations that give us a syllabic consonant /n/ at the end of words. I have chosen one word for each of the following sounds which commonly precede the /n/ syllable consonant: /t/, /d/, /p/, /s/, /z/, /f/, /v/, /θ/, /ʃ/, and /ʒ/. The words include: button, garden, happen, listen, cousin, soften, seven, strengthen, fashion, musician, and occasion.


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Syllabic Consonants in Words Ending *LE

A syllabic consonant is a consonant that is pronounced as a syllable. The two main syllabic consonants in English are /l/ or /n/ sounds. The /l/ syllabic consonant occurs at the end of the word bottle, while the /n/ occurs in words like listen. Syllabic consonants occur mainly in the final syllable of words. In this lesson, we will look at the 11 possible letter combinations that can result in a final-syllable /l/ syllabic consonant: a syllable which has a consonant not a vowel as the peak. I have chosen one word for each of the following endings which produce a syllable consonant: -ble, -cle, -dle, -fle, -gle, -kle, -ple, -sle, -tle, -xle, and -zle. Some of these combinations have many examples, while others have few. There are no other -*le endings in English words which produce the /l/ syllabic consonant.


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Words Ending in -try

A vocabulary and pronunciation activator which will help you with the following words: try, entry, gantry, pantry, poetry, pastry, paltry, sultry, wintry, country, poultry, ancestry, industry, forestry, toiletry, dentistry, chemistry, carpentry, circuitry, and psychiatry. Not only will you learn how to use each of the words, but you will also learn how to pronounce sentences using them. I have analysed the speech features of each of the sentences to show you how English pronunciation works and to help you improve your own pronunciation, too. You can read each sentence in IPA symbols, too, giving you the chance to see how linking features like the linking R, the linking J, the linking W, and linking consonants work.


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S or Z

When do we use the /s/ sound and when do we use the /z/ sound, and what’s the difference? Let’s find out… The two sounds /s/ and /z/ are very close and cause endless confusion for students. There are some rules and the rules are normally to do with the voiced and unvoiced sounds. A voiced sound is that made when we use our vocal cords. /z/ is the voiced form of the sound /s/, which is unvoiced. Put your fingers on your throat when you say the word buzz. You should feel a vibration in your throat at the end of the word. This is caused by the vocal cords vibrating and adding to the sound. Now say hiss. This time you should not feel any vibration in your throat. Your vocal cords are not involved in making the sound /s/.  


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I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

The lyric poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, also commonly known as Daffodils, is Wordsworth’s most famous poem. I have designed this lesson as a way of showing you the rhythm of English. Because of their structure, poems like this one are a very useful way of demonstrating the typical rhythm of the English language. In this lesson you will first listen to the poem, then read it, and then explore the phonetic transcription. It also includes a biography of William Wordsworth, the poet, as well as the background to the writing of the poem. Finally, you will have the chance to test how much you have learned about stress patterns and rhymes in some interactive exercises.


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Linking Sounds - An Introduction

Whether you are English, Chinese, Polynesian, Russian, or any other nationality, you share the same anatomy as me. This anatomy, in terms of our vocal tract, limits the sounds that we can easily say in a sentence. Of the two types of sounds in English, consonants and vowels, we cannot easily say two vowel sounds one after the other. Linking sounds bridge the gap between such difficult-to-say combinations of sounds. There are three linking sounds in English: the linking W, the linking J, and the linking R. This lesson will help you to see and hear how linking sounds work and how they can help you to improve not only your accent but also your listening skills.


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10 of our 70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons


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