English Sounds and Spelling – English Pronunciation Lesson

English Sounds and Spelling – English Pronunciation Lesson

Hello, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English!
In this pronunciation lesson, you can learn about sounds and spelling in English. If you
just look at a word in English, do you know how to pronounce it? Not always. It can be
difficult because, in English, the way we write a word and the way we say it are not
always the same. In this lesson, you can learn more about the differences between how we
write a word and how we say a word in English. Part one: the same letter can have different
sounds. Look at three words: phone, clock, for. All of these words contain the letter
O. Is the letter O pronounced the same way in each word? No. In “phone,” the letter O
has an /əʊ/ sound. In “clock,” O has an /ɒ/ sound. In “for,” O has an /ɔː/ sound.
So here, we have three different words, all with the same letter, but with three different
pronunciations. Part two: different letters can have the same
sound. Let’s look at three more words: big, England, busy. OK, some questions: what sound
does the I in “big” make? What sound does the E in “England” make? And what sound does
the U in “busy” make? Listen again: big, England, busy. These three letters all have the same
sound: /ɪ/. So here, we have three different letters, I, E, and U, but they all make one
sound, /ɪ/. OK, at this point, it should be clear that
letters and sounds are not the same thing in English. So let’s look at this in more
detail. Part three: how to count letters and sounds. OK, look at three more words: fast,
seven, ted. I want you to think about two questions: how many letters do these words
have, and how many sounds do these words have? OK, well, the first question is easy. “Fast”
has four letters. “Seven” has five letters, and “red” has three letters. What about the
second question? How many sounds do the words have? Well, actually, “fast” has four sounds.
/f/-/ɑː/-/s/-/t/. “Seven” has five sounds: /s/-/e/-/v/-
-/n/. “Red” has three sounds: /r/-/e/-/d/. So all of these words have the same number
of letters and sounds. “Fast” has four letters and four sounds. “Seven” has five letters
and five sounds. “Red” has three letters and three sounds. That makes these words easy
to pronounce because you see the word, one letter equals one sound. It’s easy. But are
all English words like this? No, most English words are not like this. This is what makes
English pronunciation difficult. So let’s look at this again. Part four: letters
and sounds are not always the same thing. OK, listen to three more words: coffee, teacher,
shopping. Think about the same questions we asked before: how many letters does each word
have, and how many sounds does each word have? So, “coffee” has six letters, but how many
sounds? Just four. The two Fs together make one /f/ sound, and the two Es together make
one /i/ sound. So there are four sounds. /k/-/ɒ/-/f/-/i/. Teacher has seven letters. How many sounds?
Four, again. So the two letters EA make one /iː/ sound. The two letters CH make one /tʃ/
sound, and the two letters, ER, make one /ə/ sound. So there are four sounds in the word:
/t/-/iː/-/tʃ/-/ə/. “Shopping” has eight letters. How many sounds? Five. S and H together
make one /ʃ/ sound. The two Ps together make one /p/ sound. The letters NG make one /ŋ/
sound. So that leaves five sounds: /ʃ/-/ɒ/-/p/-/ɪ/-/ŋ/. Often, a word has more letters than sounds
because two or more letters together can make one sound. Sometimes three or four letters
together can make one sound. For example, look at the word “four,” F-O-U-R. In this
word, the three letters, ‘OUR’, make one sound: /ɔː/. Let’s look at three more words: one,
use, Europe. Same questions: How many letters? How many sounds? Well, let’s look at “one.”
“One” has three letters and three sounds, so that’s easy, right? But what are the three
sounds? /w/-/ʌ/-/n/. Where does that /w/ sound come from? What about the other words?
Well, “use” has three sounds, again, /j/-/ʊː/-/z/. Again, you can see a /j/ sound, which is pronounced,
but which isn’t obviously in the written word. “Europe” has five sounds: /j/-/ʊə/-/r/-/ə/-/p/.
Once again, you can see there’s a /j/ sound in the pronunciation, which isn’t written
clearly in the word. So to review: very often, words have more letters than sounds because,
very often, two or more letters together can produce one sound. Sometimes there are extra
sounds which are not obviously written, but which are pronounced when you say the word. Okay. Let’s do some practice together. I’m
going to give you five words: apple, because, student, cheap, Wednesday. Think about the
same questions: how many letters do these words have, and how many sounds do these words
have? If you want, pause the video and think about your answer. We can start again when
you’re ready and look at the answers together. OK, ready? Let’s check. “Apple” has five letters
and three sounds: /æ/-/p/-/l/. “Because” has seven letters and five sounds: /b/-/ɪ/-/k/-/ɒ/-/z/.
“Student” has seven letters and eight sounds. How’s this possible? Let’s look: /s/-/t/-/j/-/ʊː/-/d/-/e/-/n/-/t/.
Eight. There’s an extra /j/ before the /ʊː/, which again is not obvious from the spelling,
but it’s in the pronunciation. “Cheap” has five letters and three sounds. /tʃ/-/iː/-/p/.
Wednesday, nine letters, six sounds: /w/-/e/-/n/-/z/-/d/-/eɪ/. OK, that’s the end of the lesson. Thank you
very much for watching. You can see more of our free lessons on our website,
In the video description, you can see a link to the full version of this lesson. The full
version includes a quiz and the full text, so you can review and practice this topic
some more. But that’s all. Thanks again for watching. I’ll see you next time. Bye bye!

Comments (80)

  1. good for you bro , I realy like your lesson ,the sound this once is very good. thanks.

  2. thank u so much,its so useful for me 😀

  3. Welcome back Oli !!☺

  4. Unfortunately the sound is not well recorded. There is too much echo. Kind Regards.

  5. I really enjoyed this video because I love studying English pronunciation. Thanks!

  6. wow super. i watched just now.

  7. hi oli i really love your lesson so thanks a lot …i can't wait for the next one … have a nice day

  8. Hey, Can I find the official IPA? Because I've seen many teachers using other symbols.
    Is there any difference between American English IPA and British English?

  9. it is very good, this lesson is very harmful and i like this lesson very much.

  10. Very good thanks

  11. Thank you for this lesson.

  12. I've learned some tips from this shorts video Oli , thank you very much. I like how you talk it is very clear.

  13. Oli, thank you very much !!

  14. thank you very much

  15. thank you very much

  16. hi , I really enjoyed your teaching style, is there any homework or any practice that we could do to improve our pronunciation or   speaking ?thanks

  17. Its really nice the way you teach and easy to remember.

  18. can i simply regard dipthongs as two short vowels and pronounce them in this way.if not what's the different between dipthongs and the two short vowels which make up them.

  19. thank you very much

  20. Thank you so much for this lesson. It really very nice video ?

  21. thank you for ur lessons they are very usefull and ur so cute <3

  22. hi Oli! thank you so much for your generosity when it comes to learning the english language. Got my test result yesterday

    and indeed, it was a SUCCESS! I would say, you're such a highly motivating teacher! MOre power to you Oli! all for God's glory…!

  23. Thank you so much about these videos , we play it in my uni to learn more about our department which is English language , we appreciate each moment that you spent about it

  24. Excelente, me encanta la fonética. Thank you.

  25. hello Oli, l think the spelling is one of the most important things if one want to learn English something must have very clear, notice that l'm studying traslation in English at the insitute and l'd like to know, what advice would you give me for that? a big hug from Chile

  26. I love this class
    I need english practise partners, my whatsapp number:+250783707489
    I am just a bigginer and will appreciate your help!

  27. thank you very much

  28. i like the way you talked in, its clear, thankyu teacher!

  29. great n helpful lessons

  30. thank you Oli sir

  31. thank you Oli sir

  32. hi oli..thanks for your valuable class..I have a question for you:how can I get an online language partner or tutor to improve phonetic skills?

  33. Really love this teacher.. ❤️

  34. that's great & lovely lessen oli sir thank u more!!!

  35. thank u so much that's great ?

  36. very helpful thank you

  37. in English nothing is as it seems…in the language and in life…:-)

  38. Our teacher has such a beautiful voice! 🙂

  39. And what if i am reading and come across a new word will i always have to go to hear it on the dictionary if not then how i will know how to pronunce it if the later have all these different sounds

  40. i really like your videos. your accent and pronunciation are very easy to understand.

  41. Your teaching methodology is really awesome.

  42. is difficult for me spelling

  43. Nice sir .thank you

  44. i really love watching your videos but it is not easy for me
    thank you

  45. Thank you oli we appreciate you efforts ….

  46. Hello I very confused in sound in O ex ball, more ,note ,coffe ,got, 'll have I but chage sound why

  47. Sir I want to ask you what is the meaning of tone group plz.. Tell me.

  48. what the different between ''how nice to see you ''and ''nice to see you''

  49. I am English, all I did was search Ei hav nise spelin

  50. Oli sir you are the real teacher who knows how to teach english .salute to you

  51. Hi oli everyday I'm still practice. does teacher kind of the world.

  52. Beer, Bear, Beard!

  53. Hey , I was hoping if you could help me in my grammatical skills, spellings and pronouncation skill …any tips and recommendations please

  54. I see that there is no rule to depend on and a lot of distinictions , so why should I study phonetics?!!!!!?

  55. Hi,this is I attend one interview and I am not selected in that HR asked me to talk about myself more than one minute but I couldn't .i freeze in between session my mind was blank .I could not able to make the sentence.please help me how can I overcome this, I am totally upset today

  56. Hi i'm new sorry this question how do you use british or american english

  57. Thank you very much po its very useful for my demonstration ?

  58. What about creating phonetic alphabet for english and using it in writing? You would make an amlmost perfect language…

  59. Why busy u sound i?

  60. U are such a good teacher

  61. Hello sir.
    You didn’t tell how to find how to identify the sounds:-

  62. Hello sir ,I want learn English .how to context u

  63. Hi oli,I hope you can make a vedio about phonetic symbol.For most of English learners, how to pronounce correctly is very important,but received pronunciation is very hard to learn.?I really hope you can make this vedio .?

  64. Waaaaaaaaaw that’s great teaching ????????

  65. Dear brother very good

  66. the question is why spell english not inglish when the sound is that word?? tea not ti ?? why

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