Pronunciation Coach Intro

This blog is for learners of American English who want to improve their pronunciation.

You can submit a question by using the “comments” link at the bottom of any post.

So, who I am? A language teacher with Master’s degrees in ESL (English as a Second Language) and Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Minnesota.  Over 25 years ago I started out tutoring international college students (studying in Minnesota), and since then I have gone on to teach English and Spanish from beginner to advanced levels.  My favorite area has always been pronunciation.

2 thoughts on “Pronunciation Coach Intro

  1. Many thanks for your entries. I run into your blog when I have lately learned about the IPA system. Many people talk about it with a variety of symbols, markers, and in-mouth locations. I got so confused that I almost gave up on improving my pronunciation – sometimes I got my tongue worn out from reciting tongue twisters like “She sells seashells–.” Your classification with sub-groups, coming out from your experience, sounds reasonable to a native speaker in Japanese especially when I try to locate them in my tongue, lips, mouth and throat.
    I am afraid that some impatient might be already waiting for a release of a follow-up to Vowel Sequences 1, but I am a slow learner having a hard time reconciling AHD’s 48 pronunciation markers with those of yours and other dictionaries’ including Merriam-Webster and Longman- I am unable to part with the Heritage. Please take your time while I am yet grappling with what you have kindly released over time. Hopefully I will be in time. Have a good day! With a deep gratitude.

    • Yes! It is kind of crazy trying to figure out how to pronounce English with all of the different resources — there are so many different systems that have been developed. Some of the resources reflect differences between different dialects of English, and that can make it extra confusing for learners. In addition, there may be subtle phonetic distinctions, that the linguists notice, but most people don’t really notice, and it won’t interfere with the basic clarity of your speech if you don’t know about it, so trying to figure out all of those details can make the language learning process even more complicated and frustrating. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the very fine differences in vowel sounds are incidental — which means they will happen automatically as a result of being adjacent to certain consonants or vowels — so it is not something you need to worry about training yourself to do.

      This is why I am trying to keep it as straightforward as possible for the learners. If you can learn the basic vowel system the way I have explained it, that will give you a good solid foundation, and your speech will be clear and comprehensible.

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