American English Pronunciation Introduction

Learn how to pronounce the 44 sounds of English. These lessons are arranged in two sections, vowels sounds and consonant sounds. Each lesson has a video and audio practice for each sound.
Quick Links
Vowels 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10    
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20    
Consonants 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
American English pronunciation introduction video

Knowing a lot of vocabulary, and using perfect grammar MEANS NOTHING if nobody can understand you. Pronunciation is the most important part of your English language study.
Pronunciation Lessons - Vowels

These are all of the Fun Easy English vowel pronunciation lessons.
Lesson 1 - pronounce heel, key, piece, seat
Lesson 2 - pronounce eight, mail, pay, taste
Lesson 3 - pronounce food, shoe, to, true
Lesson 4 - pronounce coat, grow, toe, woke
Lesson 5 - pronounce calm, hot, on, spa
Lesson 6 - pronounce building, busy, sit, women
Lesson 7 - pronounce friend, head, said, tell
Lesson 8 - pronounce hat, jam, pan, ran
Lesson 9 - pronounce book, could, full, woman
Lesson 10 - pronounce bought, cost, lawn, walk
Lesson 11 - pronounce fun, couple, money, does
Lesson 12 - pronounce time, type, pie, height
Lesson 13 - pronounce mountain, now
Lesson 14 - pronounce toy, royal, coin, point
Lesson 15 - pronounce near, year, beer, here
Lesson 16 - pronounce hair, wear, stare, there
Lesson 17 - pronounce are, barn, party, star
Lesson 18 - pronounce poor, tour, your, sure
Lesson 19 - pronounce port, pour, door, more
Lesson 20 - pronounce were, bird, turn, learn
Pronunciation Lessons - Consonants

These are all of the Fun Easy English consonant pronunciation lessons.
Lesson 21 - pronounce pet, putt, pit, peach
Lesson 22 - pronounce bet, but, bit, beach
Lesson 23 - pronounce ten, tip, time, tile
Lesson 24 - pronounce den, dip, dime, dial
Lesson 25 - pronounce cot, coat, came, cave
Lesson 26 - pronounce got, goat, game, gave
Lesson 27 - pronounce front, fast, fan, ferry
Lesson 28 - pronounce vine, vast, van, very
Lesson 29 - pronounce think, method, month
Lesson 30 - pronounce this, these, together
Lesson 31 - pronounce sip, sit, seat, seem
Lesson 32 - pronounce zoo, lazy, noise, please
Lesson 33 - pronounce sheet, machine, station
Lesson 34 - pronounce casual, garage, beige
Lesson 35 - pronounce chance, beach, nature
Lesson 36 - pronounce jungle, jewelry, gem
Lesson 37 - pronounce man, home, time, warm
Lesson 38 - pronounce no, month, honey, ran
Lesson 39 - pronounce singer, spring, ring
Lesson 40 - pronounce road, read, write, for
Lesson 41 - pronounce load, lead, table, special
Lesson 42 - pronounce yard, year, yield, yen
Lesson 43 - pronounce white, word, would, wool
Lesson 44 - pronounce home, hen, hot, happy
Pronunciation introduction comedy video
More Pronunciation Practice
These are pronunciation practice videos from Voice of America.
VOA Pronunciation Videos - Page 1
  • Page 1 includes the following pronunciation topics:
  • How to Pronounce the Sound /p/ and /b/
  • How to Pronounce the Sound /er/
  • How to Pronounce the Sound /w/
  • How to Pronounce the Sound /r/
  • How to Pronounce /f/ and /v/
  • How to Pronounce /ch/ and /j/
  • How to Pronounce: To, Too, Two
  • How to Pronounce: Vowel Sounds
  • How to Pronounce: /i/ Sound
  • How to Pronounce: /I/ Sound
VOA Pronunciation Videos - Page 2
  • Page 2 includes the following pronunciation topics:
  • How to Pronounce: /i/ and /I/
  • How to Pronounce: / eɪ/
  • How to Pronounce: /ɛ/ As in Technology
  • How to Pronounce: Difference between / eɪ/ and /ɛ/
  • How to Pronounce: /æ/ A Relaxed Sound
  • How to Pronounce: /ɑ/ The Sound of Modern Jobs
  • How to Pronounce: /ɛ/ versus / æ/
  • How to Pronounce: /ə/ (or /ʌ/) a fun sound
  • How to Pronounce: /ɔ/: A lawful sound
  • How to Pronounce: /ɔ/ vs. /ə/
VOA Pronunciation Videos - Page 3
  • Page 3 includes the following pronunciation topics:
  • How to Pronounce: /oʊ/ a traveling sound
  • How to Pronounce: /ʊ/: the sound of modal verbs
  • How to Pronounce: /u/ as in school
  • How to Pronounce: /ʊ/ vs. / u/
  • How to Pronounce: /ər/ as in bird
  • How to Pronounce: /aɪ/ as in Time
  • How to Pronounce: /aʊ/ as in house
  • How to Pronounce: /oɪ/ as in boy
  • How to Pronounce: Difficult Vowel Sounds /I/ and /i/
  • How to Pronounce: Difficult Vowel Sounds /ɛ/ and / æ/
VOA Pronunciation Videos - Page 4
  • Page 4 includes the following pronunciation topics:
  • How to Pronounce: / ə/, /ɑ/, /ɔ/, and /ou/ sounds – Part One
  • How to Pronounce: /ə/, /ɑ/, /ɔ/, and /ou/ sounds – Part Two
  • How to Pronounce: / ə/, /ɑ/, /ɔ/, and /ou/ sounds – Part Three
  • How to Pronounce: More details about /ʊ/
  • How to Pronounce: Review of /ər/ sound
  • How to Pronounce: Introduction to consonants - important terms and ideas
  • How to Pronounce: Place of Articulation
  • How to Pronounce: Sounds Made with Lips
  • How to Pronounce: Sounds Made with the Tip of the Tongue
  • How to Pronounce: Sounds made with the tongue and the hard palate
VOA Pronunciation Videos - Page 5
  • Page 5 includes the following pronunciation topics:
  • How to Pronounce: Sounds made with the back of the tongue
  • How to Pronounce: Replacing the /ŋ/ sound
  • How to Pronounce: What Are Stops?
  • How to Pronounce: Stops vs. Fricatives
Pronunciation Lesson
Improve Your Pronunciation by Training Your Ears

The lesson includes an audio program explaining this topic, the script for the audio program, a words in this story section, and other important information.
Audio Program

Listen to the audio program explaining this topic. Then read the following written information.
Improve Your Pronunciation by Training Your Ears
From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

Many English learners work hard to improve their pronunciation skills.

If you are not making as much progress as you'd hoped, you are not alone. You may be surprised to know that a number of teachers do not know how to effectively teach this skill.

Judy Gilbert is a pronunciation expert. She has written many books on the subject.

A few years ago, Gilbert gave a talk at the New School, a private university in New York City. She explained that, for the past 50 years, most English language teachers have not been trained to teach pronunciation.

For years, teachers mainly demonstrated the pronunciation of individual sounds, such as the "wh" sound in the word "what." But individual sounds are only one part of pronunciation, as we noted in an earlier Education Tips story. Other elements include rhythm, intonation, and stress – the loudness you give to part or all of a word or words.

These qualities together make up the system of spoken English. In everyday speech, some words and sounds are almost always pronounced fully and clearly, while others are reduced and less clear.

William Stout teaches English as Foreign Language at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has been leading pronunciation workshops for 10 years.

He says the goal in improving your pronunciation should be communicating to be easily understood, not removing your accent, which is often difficult or impossible.

Learning how to listen

Stout says one of the most important things you can do to improve your pronunciation is to learn how to listen to English effectively. And, a big part of doing this is to recognize and understand reduced English words when you hear them.

Stout says his pronunciation workshops mainly center on training his students' ears to listen for these things.

"Someone might say, 'What do you want to get him for his birthday?' And in this case, even beginner students can usually hear the content words -- what, get, birthday – and they can guess the meaning. But the words in between are reduced."

And you can hear how some words join together to sound almost like one word. For example, the words "get him" sound like "geddum." The letter "h" in "him" disappears and the vowel sound in that word is shortened. And the letter "t" in "get" changes to a "d" sound.

In everyday speech, some words are almost always reduced. These words can include pronouns, helping verbs (such as "can" or "do"), conjunctions, articles and prepositions.

Other parts of speech are almost always pronounced clearly, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

Stout says that knowing these rules can help you train your ears more effectively. And, this can help you reproduce the sounds of everyday English speech so that you are more easily understood.

Using songs, limericks, and jazz chants

Stout enjoys using songs and song-like material in his classes. These things reproduce the natural rhythm, intonation, and stress of conversational English.

Listening to songs, says Stout, can help speed up your progress.

"I think songs are a nice way to practice and I've found that students who like to sing in English generally improve their pronunciation very quickly."

In class, he plays a song or other example of natural speech, and asks students to write down what they hear. Then, the class talks about which words were reduced and how.

Listen for reduced words and sounds in this limerick:

    There was an old man from Tarentum

    Who ground his false teeth ‘til he bent them.

    When they asked him the cost

    Of what he had lost,

    He said, “I can’t say, 'cuz I rent them.”

Did you notice the reductions? There are many. One example is the dropped "h" in the pronouns "his," "him" and "he." Note that the word "'til" means "until" and "'cuz" means "because." In English conversation, Americans often shorten the words just as the limerick does.

Stout also uses jazz chants, a method popularized by book author and songwriter Carolyn Graham.

Listen for the stressed words in this jazz chant:

    Where does John live?

    He lives near the bank.

    Where does he work?

    He works at the bank.

    When does he work?

    He works all day and he works all night.

    It's a bank. It's a bank. It's a great, big bank.

Here are two suggestions for using these methods.

Tip #1: Start now

William Stout says as you listen to fast-paced English in songs, films, and other natural speech, try to notice all of the words that are reduced. Then….

"…work on imitating just one phrase or a sentence several times. But my main advice is not to wait. And you can improve your pronunciation at all levels of proficiency…and the sooner you start to notice the patterns of English pronunciation, the sooner you're going to improve. And, that way, you don't develop bad pronunciation habits that are hard to change over time."

Tip #2: Take chances

Stout advises that you let go of the fear of not sounding like "yourself" when you're practicing English conversation.

"A big part of how we define ourselves, a big part of our identity, is in the way we talk, the way we sound. But, sometimes, we just need to take on a new personality in the way we speak in a different language and we should just take chances. I think that's an important aspect is being willing to take chances and sound different to yourself."

And again, improving your pronunciation is not about completely removing your accent.

"I find that most Americans like to hear an accent – so long as they can easily understand what the person is saying."

Remember, the goal is to be understood – not to sound like a native English speaker.

I'm Phil Dierking.

And I'm Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Which words in the limerick are reduced? Which words in the jazz chant are stressed? Write your answers in the Facebook comments section below.
Words in This Story
  • pronunciation - n. the way in which words are said
  • rhythm - n. a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movements
  • intonation - n. the rise and fall in the sound of your voice when you speak
  • content - n. the ideas, facts, or images that are in a book, article, speech, movie, etc.
  • ground - v. to crush or break something into very small pieces by rubbing it against a rough surface or using a special machine
  • bend - v. to use force to cause something to become curved
  • pattern - n. the regular and repeated way in which something happens or is done
  • habit - n. something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way
  • aspect - n. a part of something
  • accent - n. a way in which a group of people says a word or words
Source: Voice of America
Pronunciation Tips
Are You How You Talk?
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson to help with your understanding of American dialects.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Click here to visit the lesson page.
Are You How You Talk?
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of American dialects. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Improve Your Pronunciation by Training Your Ears
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your pronunciation and English language reductions. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Great English pronunciation tips. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.