Birds of a Feather

Vocabulary | Pronunciation | IPA Symbols


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


No matter how good your English grammar and vocabulary may be, if your pronunciation is so bad that nobody can understand a word you say, then your English won't be much good as a means of communication. You might be good at grammar, have a broad vocabulary, and be able to explain all the aspects and tenses of English, but it's not much good if you can't be understood when you speak. I have designed these Activities to help you to improve your pronunciation, as well as other areas of your English.

IPA Symbols

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 Activities 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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Whenever we learn something new, there is always room for improvement. Let’s enter the Room for Improvement, shall we, and see how it can help us improve our English. In this lesson we will improve our knowledge of birds and some of the more common words we use to talk about birds. We’ll learn about hens, roosters, ducks, drakes, geese, ganders, pigeons, sparrows, and owls. You will also be able to practice reading IPA phonetic symbols.    

drake - noun adult male of a wild or domestic duck; English explorer and admiral who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and who helped to defeat the Spanish Armada (1540-1596)

duck - noun small wild or domesticated web-footed broad-billed swimming bird usually having a depressed body and short legs; a heavy cotton fabric of plain weave; used for clothing and tents; flesh of a duck (domestic or wild); (cricket) a score of nothing by a batsman; verb to move (the head or body) quickly downwards or away; submerge or plunge suddenly; avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing (duties, questions, or issues); dip into a liquid

gander - noun mature male goose

goose - noun web-footed long-necked typically gregarious migratory aquatic birds usually larger and less aquatic than ducks; flesh of a goose (domestic or wild); a man who is a stupid incompetent fool; verb give a spurt of fuel to; prod into action; pinch in the buttocks

hen - noun female of certain aquatic animals e.g. octopus or lobster; adult female bird; adult female chicken; flesh of an older chicken suitable for stewing

owl - noun nocturnal bird of prey with hawk-like beak and claws and large head with front-facing eyes

pigeon - noun wild and domesticated birds having a heavy body and short legs

rooster - noun adult male chicken

sparrow - noun any of several small dull-colored singing birds feeding on seeds or insects; small brownish European songbird

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