Speaking Day 11: Tricky Vowels Part 1
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!
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.
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
curb, curve, curl, curse
urban, urge, urgent
surge, surgeon, surgery
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
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.
Useful vocab from the live session
- 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.