Tips for Practicing Pronunciation

What do I study?
Individual sounds
Phrasing and Pausing
How do I study?
Listen to native speakers
Identify difficult sounds
Learn to hear and produce the sounds
Practice making the sound
Use in context
Don’t forget intonation, stress, phrasing and reductions

Diagnostic Exercises

Diagnostic Exercises
Exercise 1
Read the following paragraph aloud and underline the words or phrases you have trouble pronouncing.
Flip Charts
The standard flip chart (model 850034) is a white, plastic coated board with a grey metal frame. The paper pad is held firmly in place with two magnetic knobs and can be adjusted to accommodate various commercial sizes. This model comes complete with a carrying handle, easel, and a removable aluminum pen tray. What a pleasant alternative to the spiral-bound dinosaurs of the past! Suggested retail price: $27.69.

Which individual sounds were difficult to pronounce? (Example: l, r, v)
Which sounds were difficult to pronounce together? (Example: sp, fl, pr)
Which words were difficult to pronounce in isolation? (Ex: accommodate, firmly)
Which words and sounds were easy for you to pronounce?
What patterns of difficulty do you notice? (Ex: l/r sounds, word endings, multi-syllabic words)
Read the paragraph again with a partner, and see if he/she notices the same things.

Exercise 2
Read the following advertisement aloud, emphasizing the features you think should be highlighted.
Need to lose weight quickly? Don’t have time to exercise?
Here’s your answer!
SLENDER-DOWN has a unique thermogenic formula that turns stored fat into energy. With SLENDER-DOWN, you can burn calories, build muscle, and block fat—all at the same time. And you don’t have to give up the foods you love to eat!

Sh, Ch, J, and Y Sounds

Minimal Pairs
shoe chew Jew major mayor etch edge
she chi gee watching washing witch wish
shear cheer jeer year etcher catch cash
ship chip yip pager payer Midge Mitch
shack Jack yak bridges britches leash leech
shin chin gin lashing latches badge batch
shell gel yell ageless h-less much mush
Challenging Words
 jail  chest  stranger  exchange
 share  shrew  shrinking  voyager
 yawn  jinks  fragile  jealousy
 child  chicken  Yankee  January
 sheaf  kitchen  genealogy  childishness
 chief  midget  shadowy  ingenuity
 yeast  yearly  Jill  yen

In Phrases
cash register a jet engine which is which?
Generation X Cajun chicken year of the jackal
wishy-washy a jazz musician the Challenger tragedy
wedge issues yellow jacket tragedy
New Jersey shore place your wager pickled jellyfish

A: Which university did you go to?
B: I went to Yale/jail.
A: Oh yeah? When did you graduate/get out?
B: I never finished the last term.
A: What did the genie give you.
B: Three wishes/witches.
A: Oh really? What did you use/need them for?
B: A magic ride in the night sky.

Oral Reading
Jerry and Sherry were very fond of cherry jelly. Every year in July, they would jump in their jeep and head for the orchard, where they would pick a few bushels of the fruit in a jiffy. Then they would carry their cherished treasure to Sherry's house, where they would proceed to change the berries into their favorite treat. They used and old-fashioned recipe, which called for sugar, gelatin, and of course, jillions of cherries. They stirred the mixture in a huge aluminum pot, then gently poured it into shallow jars. They shared a few samples with the children, but the majority of the batch would be saved until January or February when they could enjoy it even more.

"w" sounds
Minimal Pairs
/k/ /kw/
Ooh Woo Rue Till Twill Trill Cake Quake
Oh Woe Roe Dane Duane Drain Kick Quick
Owed Woed Road Twist Tryst Keen Queen
Un One Run Swarm Dwarf Thwart Coat Quote
Wool Rule Swish Switch Twitch Kill Quill
Wooed Rude Dwindle Twinkle Kale Quail
Ow Wow Row Q words
Oak Woke Forward Toward Question Request
Old Wold Coward Awkward Quite Quiet
Wooster Rooster Shower Towel Quality Quantity

In Phrases
How rude! A wolf in sheep’s clothing Wish you were here
I would if I could If worse comes to worse Open a can of worms
A woman’s word Pull the wool over her eyes Worldwide web
A wishing well The world is your oyster West by Northwest

A: Where do you work?
B: In Washington.
A: Washington state or Washington DC?
B: DC. Why do you ask?
A: I was just wondering.
B: I’m a window washer.
A: Oh really? I thought you were a senator.
B: No, I wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world.

Oral Reading
Rudy was a world traveler. Every year he would take wonderful vacations to exotic locations. One year, he would wander around the wilderness of western Australia. The next thing you knew, he was rafting down the wild rapids of the Wisconsin River. He never got tired of his one-man adventures. That is, not until he melt Wanda, the woman of his dreams. She wished for the life of a rancher’s wife in Wyoming. Now, the only time he gets away from home is when he rides to Worland, the nearest town, every other weekend.
The "v" Sound

Minimal Pairs
best vest west ribber river jive jibe
bee v wee ribbon riven strove strobe
buy vie y beliefs believes grieve grebe
bale veil wail infest invest live life
bat vat fat safer savor relieve relief
vine wine fine rifle rival

Challenging Words
 vast  live  vivid  vegetable
 vice  vile  savvy  visionary
 void  rave  harvest  vacancy
 five  thrive  lover  convenience
 grove  strive  louver  vehicle
 glove  very  every  vivacious
 live  thrive  vinyl  evasion
 vile  strive  convey  invalid
 rave  very  virile  vestige

In Phrases
moving violation get even violent behavior
It's better to give than receive virtue and vice twenty-seventh
vanity fair every once in a while anniversary
veteran's bureau liven up wide variety
invasion of privacy invaluable advice verifiable evidence

A: How did you avoid a parking violation?
B: Easy. I parked my vehicle in a vacant lot.
A: Don't they ever check there?
B: Never. Not even in the most severe crackdowns.
A: You're lucky. I've been cited five times.
B: Take my advice. Get a validated parking sticker.

Oral Reading
Valentines Day is for Lovers
Every February 14th, Von and Verna celebrate Valentine's Day. They leave their worries behind and revisit the place they first met seven years ago: a small cove near the Valley of the Five Ravens.
Finish the story using as many v words as possible

American Numbers and Prices
Remember that in English, we divide prices at the decimal point.
For example: $4.59 four dollars (and) fifty-nine cents
four / fifty nine (long way)
(short way)
(Time is also divided in a similar way: 12:47 is said “twelve / forty-seven”)
Americans often say large numbers in “phrases” of two digits.
For example: 267
4381 two hundred sixty-seven
two / sixty seven
four thousand three hundred eighty-one
forty-three / eighty-one (long way)
(short way)
Some people also use two-digit phrasing with telephone numbers:
565-8347 five-six-five // eighty-three / forty-seven
Practice the following prices (both long and short ways) with a partner:
That will be____(price)______
That comes to ____(price)____
$14.40 $1.79*
$77.17 $29.00**
$70.50 $425.78
$211.54 $231.49
$380.18 $3,657.88
*Also: a dollar seventy-nine
**Also: twenty-nine (dollars) even

1. Some people reason that "seeing is believing". They feel that they are frequently deceived.
2. Bill saw a big pickerel swimming in the ripples. He licked his lips in anticipation of a
delicious fish dinner.
3. Several veteran members of the Senate expressed displeasure. Special legislation to
regulate the selling of eggs was not necessary, they said.
4. Sally banged the black Packard into a taxicab. It was badly damaged by the crash.
5. I am unable to understand my Uncle Gus. He mutters and mumbles about nothing.
6. John started across the yard toward the barn. His father remarked calmly that he'd better
not wander too far.
7. Is Shaw the author of "Walking on the Lawn"? I thought it was Walter Hall.
8. Captain Hook pushed through the bushes to the brook. From where he stood it looked
like an ambush.
9. As a rule we go canoeing in the forenoon. The pool is too cool in June.
10. Hugh refused to join the musicians' union. His excuse was viewed with amusement.
11. Don't go home alone in the snow. You'll be cold and soaked and half frozen.
12. Powler wants to plow all the ground around his house. Somehow I doubt if the council
will allow it.
13. The agent remained away all day. Late at night he made his way to the place where the
sailors stayed.
14. The tile workers were fighting for higher prices and more time off. They tried to
drive back the strike breakers.
15. The boys toiled noisily in the boiling sun. They enjoyed the work that Roy avoided.
16. Mr. Miller had climbed many mountains. But the bottomless chasm that he glimpsed
dimly before him was the mightiest in his memory.
17. Laden down by their burdens, Dan and Ned ran from the barn into the open. Their
keen senses warned them that the tornado was not far distant.
18. The monk singing in the evening light had no inkling that anything was wrong. Suddenly
the strong tones of the gong rang out.
19. Part way up the slope above the pool was a popular camping spot. Many people
stopped there for picnic suppers among the pines.
20. The British were not bothered about the robbery. They believed that they could bribe the
Arab to betray his tribe.
21. After waiting for twenty minutes the train left the station for the western front. The
veterans went to sleep, but the excited recruits sat and talked all night.
22. The doll's red dress was soiled and muddy, but the ragged child hugged it adoringly.
23. Old Katy had a particular dislike for hawks and crows. She called them "wicked creatures".
24. As the big dog began to dig under the log, Gary forgot his hunger and grabbed his gun.
25. Early every summer our barn is covered with brilliant red roses. The broad crimson roof
draws admiring crowds from far and near.
26. Lawyer Clark held his little felt hat and his black gloves in his lap. He silently placed the
valise containing the wills on the table.
27. "For breakfast", said father, "I find that coffee is the staff of life. I refuse to be softened
by all this foolishness about half a grapefruit."
28. I believe I'll save this heavy veil. The vogue might be revived eventually.
29. We thought that the theory about the death of the author was pathetic. But we had faith
that something would lead to the truth.
30. My father finds it hard to breathe in this weather. Even the heather withers.
31. The successful student of voice in speech does not assume that class exercise is sufficient.
He also practices by himself outside of class.
32. My cousin's play "The Zero Zone" is pleasant and amusing. But it won't be chosen
for a prize because it doesn't deserve it.
33. A flash of lightning showed the fishing ship in the shallows close to shore. With one
great crushing motion the ocean dashed it against the shoal.
34. Even before the explosion at the garage the Persian made a casual allusion to sabotage.
35. Hurry back anyhow Harry. It will help if you only hear half of the rehearsal.
36. "What is that"? he whispered. Somewhere from the left came the whistle of a bobwhite.
37. Wait until the weather is warm. Then everyone will want to walk in the woods.
38. Did you ever speculate on the comparative uses and values of onions and yellow yams?
39. Mitchell was a righteous old bachelor. He watched for a chance to chase the children
out of his cherry orchard.
40. All but Judge Johnson pledged allegiance to the new legislation. He objected because
it was unjust to the soldiers in his region.

Try this in many ways. Read it with the gusto of a radio announcer, or try to convince me like a car salesman. Explore vocal range to the fullest.
Titillate your appetite with Dottie's tasty tidbits,
The delightful vitaminized tea time dainties,
Artistically wrapped and definitely insulated
With double thicknesses of damp deterrent tinfoil.
Dottie's tidbits are actually a preventative against
acidity and flatulence--
Do you doubt it?
Then there is only one thing to do:
Try Dottie's tidbits today.
ONE-LINERS (Exercises for exploring the vocal range)
Take several of these lines and explore the vocal possibilities. Remember that belief must be generated within yourself, first.

Boy, you are something, do you know that? You are really something:
Oh, Man. I really don't want to do this -- I really don't.
I Can't believe it: It was the most exciting thing that's ever happened:
It was so funny: You had to be there -- it was a classic:
Oh, I wish I could go. I'd give anything if I could be there.
I don't want to talk about it. In fact, I don't even want to think about it.
I really like you. You're easy to talk to, you know?
Look, it's none of your business, O.K.? Just leave me alone.
I wish that things were like they used to be. It was a lot easier back then.
What did you do that for? What's wrong with you?
Oh God, it hurts. Can't you do something about it?
I don't care. I really don't care at this point.
Did you really? Go on - - you're kidding me!
I'm not sure I understand. Tell me again; I just don't know what you mean.
Where have you been? Do you know how long I've been waiting for you?
I hope they're all right. I just hope nothing's happened.
Something's wrong, isn't there? You're afraid to tell me, is that it?
Hey, everything's great: Things couldn't be better:
God) I'm so nervous. I just can't seem to calm down.
Well . . .1 mean . . . O.K. . . . O.K. Let me start again.
Work on articulation - the audience hears you better if they hear consonants. Work on plosives. Help students get rid of the bad habit of dropping the ends of words. Put the hard sounds back in. If the word is stop, I want to hear stoP, let's hear those p's - spit all over the place if you have to, but stress the ends of the words.
Give me the gift of a grip tap sock
A clip drape ship shape tip top sock
Not your spiv slick slap stick slip shod stock
But a plastic elastic grip top sock
None of your fantastic slack swop slob
From a slap dash flash cash haberdash shop
Not a knick knack knit-lock knock kneed knickerbocker sock
With a mock shot, blob mottled, trick ticker tock clock
Not a rucked up, puckered up, flop top sock
Nor a super, sheer, seersucker, pucka sack smock sock
Not a spot-speckled, frog freckled, cheap sheik sock
Off a hotch potch, moss blotched, botched scotch block
Nothing slip shod, flip flop, drip drop or glip glop
Tip me to a tip top grip top sock.