Pronunciation And Phonetics

Today’s Tutor Tip comes courtesy of ESL tutor Ellie Keyser. Ellie writes,I just wanted to let you know of a website (you may already know of it) that I
used in my Spanish phonetics class in college, but it also applies to the
English…for phonetics null At this site, you are able to not only hear, but also
see the vocal sounds and how words and sounds in English are pronounced,
including the placement of the tongue, lips, teeth, which can be quite different
than in Spanish.

Visit the site by clicking this link. It impressed me to watch a sagittal plane view of the mouth making a particular sound—such as an /r/—hear the sound simultaneously, and then read step-by-step descriptions of how to produce the sound. Better still, you can also see a frontal view of a real human face while someone pronounces it. Not only were the demonstrations and explanations very precise and clear, it was wonderfully fun to watch, especially when it was making the trilling Spanish ‘rr’ sound. You have to see it to fully appreciate it.
Some of the text can muddy the picture for a non-linguist, for instance this gem, describing tongue placement for the /l/ sound: ‘The tongue tip and a portion of the tongue blade contact the alveolar ridge at midline.’ But the pictures, diagrams, animations and sound more than make up for the confusing jargon. You may either use the site during lessons if you meet at a place with internet access, or use the pictures and descriptions to help you explain to your learner how sounds are produced in your own words. Translating the sentence above into layman’s language, you might say, ‘The point of your tongue touches the top of your mouth just behind your teeth.’ There is an explanation of the jargon on the front page, called ‘an interactive diagram of the articulatory anatomy.’
Special thanks to Ellie Keyser, My Favorite Tutor This Week. Thanks also to the University of Iowa for creating this site. And thanks to you for helping someone with the English language.