Tricky American English Pronunciation

About this course: In this course, you’ll practice the sounds of American English that might sometimes be confusing. You'll practice both consonant and vowel sounds. You’ll also learn about the things that give English its special “music,” such as how to stress the right syllable in a word, how to make your voice go up and down in a natural-sounding melody, and how to naturally connect sounds and words. Learning these things will help you speak more clearly and make sure that others can understand what you're saying. This course is useful for English language learners who want to improve pronunciation of American English for better communication. Note that access to all of the lectures and handouts are free to anyone, but the graded assignments and quizzes are only available in the paid version of the course. You will need to submit recordings of your own pronunciation for graded assignments.

Created by:  University of California, Irvine

  • Tamy Chapman
    Taught by:  Tamy Chapman, Instructor, International Programs
    University of California Irvine Division of Continuing Education

  • Marla Yoshida
    Taught by:  Marla Yoshida, Academic Coordinator
    International Programs
Commitment3-4 hours per week for 4 weeks
Hardware ReqYou will need to be able to make .mp3 recordings of your pronunciation.
How To PassPass all graded assignments to complete the course.
User Ratings
Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said
In this course, you will learn about the consonant and vowel sounds of American English and practice some of the difficult sounds. You will also learn about and practice intonation and stress. Practicing these things will help you improve your pronunciation and make your speech easier for others to understand.
2 videos
  1. Video: Welcome
  2. Video: Meet Your Teacher
  3. Peer Review: Meet Your Classmates
Tricky Consonant Sounds
In this first week, you will practice the consonant sounds of American English. Consonants are the sounds where the air coming up from your lungs meets some obstacles on the way. The first sounds in the words time, sand, and moon are consonants. After a quick quiz to find out which consonant sounds are the most difficult for you, you’ll practice some pairs of sounds that might be confusing and learn some tricks for telling them apart, and you’ll start to understand how your mouth moves when you say these sounds.
9 videos8 readings3 readings
  1. Reading: Consonants Pre-Test Directions
  2. Practice Quiz: Consonants Pre-Test
  3. Reading: Supplemental Materials
  4. Video: Pre-Test Review
  5. Reading: Consonants Overview
  6. Video: Consonants Overview
  7. Reading: Tricky Consonant Pairs
  8. Video: Tricky Consonant Pairs Part 1
  9. Video: Tricky Consonant Pairs Part 2
  10. Video: Consonant Pairs Practice
  11. Practice Quiz: Tricky Consonant Contrasts Practice Quiz
  12. Reading: Final Consonant Clusters
  13. Video: Final Consonants and Consonant Clusters
  14. Video: Final Consonants Practice
  15. Practice Quiz: Final Consonants and Consonant Clusters Practice Quiz
  16. Reading: Shadowing Directions
  17. Video: Shadowing a Conversation
  18. Reading: Shadowing Assignment
  19. Reading: Pronunciation Tips
  20. Video: Pronunciation Tips
Graded: Assignment 1
Graded: Graded Quiz
Tricky Vowel Sounds
This week, you’ll practice some tricky vowel sounds in American English. Vowels are sounds that come out of your mouth very smoothly, like the first sounds in apple, ocean, and out. Vowel sounds are very important for being understood in English. They’re the “heart” of each syllable, and they need to be said clearly to avoid misunderstanding. Our goal is to help you pronounce English in a way that can be easily understood by listeners in real life, and mastering vowel sounds is an important step toward that goal. Now let’s practice the vowel sounds of American English.
9 videos7 readings3 readings
  1. Reading: Vowels Pre-Test Directions
  2. Practice Quiz: Vowels Pre-Test
  3. Reading: Supplemental Materials
  4. Video: Vowel Pre-Test Review
  5. Video: Vowel Sounds Overview
  6. Reading: Tricky Vowel Contrasts
  7. Video: Tricky Vowel Contrasts Part 1
  8. Video: Tricky Vowel Contrasts Part 2
  9. Video: Tricky Vowel Pairs Practice
  10. Practice Quiz: Tricky Vowels Practice Quiz
  11. Reading: Unstressed Vowels
  12. Video: Unstressed Vowels
  13. Video: Unstressed Vowels Practice
  14. Practice Quiz: Unstressed Vowels Practice Quiz
  15. Reading: Shadowing Directions
  16. Video: Shadowing a Conversation
  17. Reading: Shadowing Assignment
  18. Reading: Pronunciation Tips
  19. Video: Pronunciation Tips
Graded: Assignment 2
Graded: Graded Quiz
The Music of American English Pronunciation
This week, you’ll learn about some things that give English its special rhythm and melody. You’ll learn about syllables—the small chunks of sound that make up the “beats” in words—and word stress—the way some parts of words are emphasized more than others. You’ll also see how some words become shorter and weaker when we talk. Since these words are used very often in ordinary speaking, we can’t understand spoken English without them. Our goal this week is to help you use the music of English to communicate more effectively and to be understood more easily when you speak. Enjoy learning about the music of American English pronunciation.
11 videos8 readings3 readings
  1. Reading: Supplemental Materials
  2. Video: What is the Music of English?
  3. Video: Syllables and Word Stress
  4. Video: Syllables and Word Stress Practice
  5. Practice Quiz: Syllables and Word Stress Practice Quiz
  6. Reading: Thought Groups and Intonation
  7. Video: Intonation
  8. Reading: Supplemental Materials
  9. Video: Intonation Practice
  10. Practice Quiz: Intonation Practice Quiz
  11. Reading: Connected Speech and Reducing Sounds
  12. Video: Linking in Connected Speech
  13. Video: Linking Connected Speech Practice
  14. Video: Reduced Words
  15. Reading: Supplemental Materials
  16. Video: Reduced Words Practice
  17. Practice Quiz: Connected Speech Practice Quiz
  18. Reading: Shadowing Directions
  19. Video: Shadowing a Conversation
  20. Reading: Shadowing Assignment
  21. Reading: Pronunciation Tips
  22. Video: Pronunciation Tips
Graded: Assignment 3
Graded: Graded Quiz
Other Tricky Things
In this final week of the course, you'll look at a few more tricky points in American English pronunciation. First, you’ll learn about the different ways to pronounce the –s and –ed word endings, which have important grammatical meanings, and you’ll learn when to use each kind of pronunciation. Next, you’ll practice pronouncing numbers like 14 and 40, 15 and 50, 16 and 60 that can cause misunderstandings. You’ll also learn about the pronunciation of the words “can” and “can’t” –the difference between them might surprise you. Finally, you’ll practice some sound changes that happen when words come together in common spoken expressions like "gonna" for "going to," "wanna" for "want to," and "shoulda" for "should have."
8 videos8 readings3 readings
  1. Reading: -S and -Ed Endings
  2. Video: -S and -Ed Endings
  3. Reading: Supplemental Materials
  4. Video: -S and -Ed Endings Practice
  5. Practice Quiz: -S and -Ed Endings Practice Quiz
  6. Reading: Tricky Words
  7. Video: Some Tricky Words
  8. Video: Some Tricky Words Practice
  9. Practice Quiz: Tricky Words Practice Quiz
  10. Reading: Common Linked Expressions
  11. Video: Common Linked Expressions
  12. Video: Common Linked Expressions Practice
  13. Practice Quiz: Linked Expressions Quiz
  14. Reading: Shadowing Directions
  15. Video: Shadowing a Conversation
  16. Reading: Shadowing Assignment
  17. Reading: Pronunciation Tips
  18. Video: Pronunciation Tips
  19. Reading: Learn More
Graded: Assignment 4
Graded: Graded Quiz
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