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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 Owl / aʊ /

Activate the Vowel in Owl / aʊ / with this Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the eighth and last of the gliding vowels / aʊ /. This is also the last of the 20 British English vowels on our IPA chart. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / aʊ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / aʊ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / aʊ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / aʊ / - This gliding vowel sound is the vowel sound with the fewest letter combinations, being formed from only: OU and OW. There are two vowel sound which have the potential to cause confusion with the / aʊ / sound. These are the / ɔː / and the / ɑː / sounds. I looked at the minimal pairs / ɔː / vs / aʊ / in Pronunciation Activation Pack 8 – the Vowel in Horse, so I will not cover it in this lesson. In this lesson, I will look at the / aʊ / vs / ɑː / minimal pairs.


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The Periodic Table of the Elements

How to say all of the 118 elements of the periodic table while learning about comparatives and superlatives. I’m not a chemist, I’m an English teacher. That much, I hope, is apparent to you by now. I did, however, study Chemistry at school and found it fascinating. I thought it would be fun to make this English Activation Pack if only to refresh my own memory of the names of the elements. For those students out there who have an interest in the periodic table and the chemical elements, this English Activation Pack will ensure that you can correctly pronounce them all with a British accent. Some of the elements are pronounced differently in American English. This English Activation Pack also looks at superlatives and comparatives in English. Most of the information about the elements contains comparative or superlative forms to give you plenty of examples of how to use them. There are also exercises at the back of the eBook to give you some practice using comparative and superlatives in English.  


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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 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 Toy / ɔɪ /

Activate the Vowel in Toy / ɔɪ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the fifth of the gliding vowels / ɔɪ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ɔɪ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ɔɪ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ɔɪ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / ɔɪ / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: OI, OY, and very rarely UOY and AW. There is only one other vowel sound that has the potential to cause confusion with the / ɔɪ / sound and that is the pure vowel sound / ɔː /.


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Vowel in Train / eɪ /

Activate the Vowel in Train / eɪ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the fourth of the gliding vowels / eɪ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / eɪ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / eɪ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / eɪ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / eɪ / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: A, AI, AY EI, EIGH, EY, and EA and rarely AU, AO, and E and from French ER, ET, and EE. There are two other vowel sounds that cause confusion with the / eɪ / sound. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack I’ll look at the / eɪ / vs / ɪ / minimal pairs and the / eɪ / vs / e / minimal pairs. 


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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 Pure / ʊə /

Activate the Vowel in Pure / ʊə / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the one sound on the British IPA chart that is in danger of disappearing in many words. The sound is the / ʊə / sound which used to be heard in words like pure and poor. I say used to be heard, because since the middle of the 20th Century, the / ʊə / sound has been replaced by the / ɔː / sound, so pure / pjʊə / is now / pjɔː /. Though the / ʊə / sound has been replaced by the / ɔː / sound among the young, middle aged RP English speakers may still use the old / ʊə / sound. For anyone who was born after the 1950s, myself included, these pronunciations sound rather old-fashioned and are difficult to produce. This gliding vowel sound has, or rather had, these letter combinations: OOR, OUR, URE, UR, UE, and UA. The biggest problem for students is that the / ʊə / sound is one of the least frequent vowel sounds in British English. It is also becoming less frequent as time goes on, so students ought to follow the modern pronunciation and use the / ɔː / sound in place of the older / ʊə / sound. Purists, particularly older ones, might disagree, but I would argue that the proof of the pudding is in the hearing.  


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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 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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10 of our 70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons


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