Speaking Day 11: Tricky Vowels Part 1

Find a list of ‘minimal pairs’ here (hurt and heart, bird and bard).

Learn more about the ‘ur’ sound on this site.

 

Vulnerable vowels Part 1: ‘ur’

Why is this sound so difficult?

1. It does not exist in many languages.

2. The spelling is usually with ‘r’, so learners pronounce it as they read it.

3. American and Irish English DOES pronounce the ‘r’ but in a subtle way, keeping the long sound.

In dictionaries, you may see a small ‘r’ or other symbol to show that US English inserts an ‘r’ e.g lɝːn

How to practise?

As with all pronunciation practice, you need to recognise the sound first.

Listen, pause the video, and say the word silently in your head.

THEN repeat the word out loud.

Do this with all the words!

Tech Tools

Try this for FUN – Learnhip.com (Bird vs Bored)

Listen for the sounds here.

It’s not perfect, but it tells you how well you pronounce these vowels.

The UK Pronunciation of the ‘ur’ sound

The US Pronunciation of the ‘ur’ sound

List of the most common ‘ur’ words

  • Check you understand the meanings.
  • Use an online dictionary to hear the sound.
  • Listen and repeat several times.
  • Put the words into memorable sentences.

_er_

One syllable words:

her, herd, herb, kerb, nerd, perk, germ, merge 

Stress on second syllable:

defer, alert, insert, convert, concern, dessert, eternal

observe, reserve, preserve, deserve, diverse, reverse

Stress on first syllable

service, sermon, person, nervous, certain, certify, sterling, Mercury, thermal

_ur_

fur

further

blur

occur

hurt

burn

turn, return

absurd

curb, curve, curl, curse

purge,

church

nurse

surface

Thursday

urban, urge, urgent

surge, surgeon, surgery

_ir_

End of word

fir, stir, sir

One syllable words

firm, girl, bird, birth, third, shirt skirt, flirt

Two syllable words

dirty, thirty, thirsty, birthday circle, circuit virtue, sirloin

Three syllable words

virtual, Birmingham

_ear_

early

earn

earth

learn

yearn

hear

pearl

search

research

_rred

blurred

purred

stirred

occurred

preferred

deterred

transferred

_our_

journey

journalist

courteous

Section 2 Practice

I’d like you to describe a book that had an influence on you.

  • what the book was
  • how you first heard of the book
  • what the main story of the book is

and explain why it played such a major role in your life.

Record on Flipgrid

  • I heard about it when I was scrolling through my facebook feed.
  • I really couldn’t put it down.
  • I’m not really an avid reader of books.
  • I’ve been reading a good book recently.
  • I’ve read it from cover to cover.
  • I don’t remember who wrote it.
  • This book deals with how to maintain a work-life balance
  • This book was recommended to me by my best friend.
  • My best friend recommended this book to me.
  • It’s my all-time favourite book.
  • I’ve read it 4 times.

Words ending in ‘k’

Many of the difficult vowel sounds end in the letter ‘k’, so today’s lesson is a good opportunity to go through them.

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