Are the different spellings of vowels in English driving you crazy? Do they keep you from recognizing words you already know or make you afraid to write anything in English? Do you hesitate to pronounce new English words, not knowing which sounds their vowels will have this time?
Vowels in English can certainly be confusing. A letter can have four or more sounds. Individual vowel sounds can also be written with several different combinations of letters!
Is there any way to make sense of this mess? Will you ever be comfortable reading or writing in English?
You can master the vowels in English by learning a few simple patterns!
EnglishHints now has two courses to help you pronounce English vowels. They include some of the same information, but their purpose and approach is different.
The English Vowels and Spellings course discussed on this page focuses on the individual vowel sounds. It gives more details on English sound-spelling correspondence. That might make it useful for teachers or parents helping children with spelling problems.
My newer course is 9 Days to Better English Pronunciation. It's designed to help scientists or other professionals who didn't grow up speaking English but use it in their work now.
Its emphasis is on word stress and vowel sounds in common professional vocabulary. Those are the most frequent obstacles keeping many professionals from speaking English as clearly as they would like to. English vowels and word stresses are so different from those in many other languages! Listening to these explanations and practicing the vowel sounds and vocabulary can make a real difference in a short time.
The course also reviews consonant sounds, especially when they differ from sounds in other common languages. There's special practice with the differences between L and R sounds, since they do not differ much in several East Asian languages.
It includes just over 80 minutes of video total, with 15 minutes or so of review and practice activities for each of the nine "days" or lessons (in addition to repeating the pronunciations in the videos.) It's about 1/2 hour per lesson.
Both courses include
If you want to speak English as clearly as possible at work, definitely look at the Better English Pronunciation course. It's $47 rather than $27, but it will be much more useful for you.
If you're mainly interested in the spellings and sounds of vowel sounds in English (especially if you are a native English speaker or helping English-speaking children), check out the English Vowel Sounds and Spelling course discussed below. There are about 70 minutes of video total and 9 quizzes.
Check out this 5-day course! It's a step-by-step process to
By the end of this course,
This course makes it as simple as possible.
Each day’s lessons (usually several short videos with quizzes to review what you learned) will take half an hour to 45 minutes. (You don't have to do it all in one day, of course.) You can download the audio files and pdf exercises and examples to review offline.
Day 1 starts with a welcome video. It gives an overview of what you'll learn. Then there are two brief lessons: an introduction to short and long vowels and a lesson on homophones. There are quizzes and homophone discussion questions to help you remember what you learned.
Here’s a little more information on the first day’s lessons:
Short and long vowels are the two most common sounds for each letter. The course teaches a simple way to remember each sound using common words and colors.*
(For example, ‘black hat’ stands for the short A sound.) These are easier for many of us than learning the International Phonetic Alphabet. This lesson gives simple rules for when a vowel will be short or long.
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. (They usually have different spellings, too.) They’re important to recognize!
If you choose the wrong homophone, a spell checker cannot catch your mistake. (Examples: to/too/two or they're/their.) Sometimes grammar checkers can catch them. If missed, they can confuse your readers or make you look uneducated. That’s why the lessons for each vowel point out more common homophones.
*P.S. For more information on associating vowel sounds with colors see this color vowel chart. It also links to the website of the teachers who designed the chart. That website has more information and free and paid courses (and materials) to help teach this system.
Days 2-4 talk about each of the five vowels and their digraphs. (Digraphs are combinations of two or more letters, like 'ai.' 'ee,' or 'igh.') Each lesson shows the different ways to pronounce them.
Day 2 has videos and quizzes on A, E, and I and their digraphs.
Day 3: O and U and their digraphs. (You can pronounce OU 6 different ways, so it’s harder to learn!)
Day 4: Vowels followed by R. (Learn the different sounds of air, ar, ear, eer, ir, or, etc. Think of the various sounds of words like air, bear, beer, bird, car, care, ear, earth, for, war, and word.)
Day 5: Multi-syllable and Academic Words. One key is syllable stress. Notice the difference between motivate and motivation or strategy and strategic. You'll learn simple rules for syllable stress and common vowel sound tricks.
Increase your confidence reading, writing, and speaking English by mastering English vowels! The course is $27, but you can check it out and watch the overview video for free to see if it will help you. Check it out here.