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HOMEWORK The most important sound in English

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This week's English language lesson is

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SOUND IN ENGLISH?

and we also answer the question

WHAT IS THE SECRET TO 'GOOD' ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION?

 

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The schwa is the name for the #1 sound in English.

It is a weak, unstressed sound and it occurs in many words. It is usually the sound in grammar words like articles (the, a and an) and prepositions (of, for, to, etc.)

 

Pronouncing the schwa sound correctly is a good way to make your pronunciation more accurate and natural.

The phonemic symbol for this sound is /ə/ .

 

Now watch the video and listen to the examples:

ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION: #1 SOUND IN ENGLISH (ZakWashington Video tutorial - Part 1)

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Unstressed syllables

Any vowel letter (A E I O U) can be pronounced as the schwa. It just depends if it is the UNIMPORTANT or UNSTRESSED part.

 

In the word 'man' the letter 'a' has its full sound - represented by the symbol /æ/.

In 'postman' the syllable 'man' is not stressed and the letter 'a' is pronounced as schwa, represented by the symbol .

 

Over to you!

Exercise 

Now do the exercise, look at the sentences and decide where the schwa sound is.

It can be found in more than once in each sentence.

1 . It’s for you

2 . It takes a lot of time

3 . How about a cup of tea?

4 . What are you doing tonight?

5 . What time will you arrive at Victoria?

6 . I was going to tell you

7 . The leisure centre is closed for a private function

8 . The airport is not far from the capital city

9 . The book is about pronunciation

10. We need more financial support

11. You need to pay attention all the time

12. It is a very thorough report

Answers at the bottom of the page.

 

Now watch the video to understand how to use it. 

ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION: VIDEO TUTORIAL (Part 2)

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Exercise

Now practice saying these words out loud:

DOCTOR     BANANA     TOMORROW     DIFFICULT     SUMMER     LEVEL     PROTECT     SURVIVE     PUPIL     THEATRE     MEASURE     WIZARD

International Phonetics Alphabet. English language phonetics chart
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ANSWERS

1 . It’s for you

2 . It takes a lot of time

3 . How about a cup of tea?

4 . What are you doing tonight?

5 . What time will you arrive at Victoria?

6 . I was going to tell you

7 . The leisure centre is closed for a private function

8 . The airport is not far from the capital city

9 . The book is about pronunciation

10. We need more financial support

11. You need to pay attention all the time

12. It is a very thorough report

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