British English vowel sounds - the twelve monophthongs

CLOSE____Front vowel sounds (front of tongue high in mouth) ______ _____________ Back vowel sounds (back of tongue high in mouth)

HALF-CLOSE__Front vowel sounds (front of tongue just above mid-height in mouth) __ Central vowel sounds __ Back vowel sounds (tongue drawn back)

____OPEN____Front vowel sounds (front of tongue low in mouth) ___ Back vowel sounds (back of tongue low in mouth)

English vowel sounds

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Vowel Phonemes

Lips loosely spread. Tongue lax with less tension than / i: /


Lips loosely spread and slighly wider apart than / ɪ /


Lips neutrally open and slightly wider apart than / e /


Open lip-rounding, wide open jaws, back of tongue low.


Lips neutrally open. Open jaws. Centralized quality.


Lips loose, but closely rounded. Tongue not as tense as in / u: /


Lips in neutral position. Centralized. Tongue slightly higher than in /ʌ/


Lips spread. Tongue tense (front raised) with sides touching upper molars.


Lips neutrally open and jaws far apart. Centre to back of tongue fully open.


Medium lip rounding. Tongue drawn back making no contact with upper molars.


Lips neutrally spread. Tongue slightly higher than /ə/ (no firm contact with upper molars)


Lips closely rounded. Back of tongue high. Tense compared with /ʊ/


Text to practise short English vowel sounds

The story of Betty Botter and the butter

Betty Botter had some butter,
"But," she said, "this butter's bitter.
If I put it in my batter,
It would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter-
Better than the bitter butter-
That would make my batter better."

So she bought a bit of butter,
Better than the bitter butter,
And she put it in her batter,
And it made her batter better.

So it was better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.

The cold old house - long vowels and diphthongs

I once knew a house,
A cold, old house,
A cold, old house by the sea.
If I were a mouse,
In a cold, old house,
What a cold, old mouse I would be!

I joined the navy - long vowels and diphthongs

I joined the navy,
To see the sea.
And what did I see?
I saw the sea.

The wild rover - long vowels and diphthongs

I've been a wild rover for many a year,
And I've spent all my money on whisky and beer,
But now I'm returning with gold in great store,
Now I never will play the wild rover no more

And it's no, nay, never,
No nay never, no more,
Will I play the wild rover?
No, never, no more.

Songs for practising English phonemes

Song Titles listed by level and frequency of English sound.