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Positive Voice Blog

One of the Greatest Mistakes Made When Speaking English

Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by Positivevoice

In most languages, particularly in Spanish, we speak more or less as we spell, which makes reading aloud fairly straight forward. This is not the case when speaking English. There are some general rules, but for the most part, you just need to listen and learn.

This week, i taught a Purchasing Director. 'Purchase' spelled phonetically is:


The most interesting learning here is that when you see the spelling 'a' in words, such as purchase, sausage and luggage, it is pronounced  ɪ, as in 'is' or 'it'.Similarly, we don't clearly pronounce the 'u' in ambulance, it is more like amb-y-l'nce- as you can see, the 'a' between the 'l' and the 'n' is also missing. Ambulance spelled phonetically is:


short of learning every word in the dictionary, the best way to pick up correct pronunciation is to listen and read at the same time. This really helps the brain to process the pronunciation of new words and is a great way to correct mis-pronunciation of words that already exist in your vocabulary.

Try re-reading this blog whilst listening to the following audio:

Speaking and listening at the same time

British Accent Coaching Online

Posted on Thursday, February 02, 2017 by Positivevoice

When developing a British accent, in addition to working on your resonance and general technique (I will cover this in more depth in future blogs), it is important to work your way through all the sounds in the International Phonetic Index. All these elements represent pieces of a puzzle and it is our job to put all these pieces together in order to achieve the final result. If you miss a piece of the puzzle, this will be reflected in the way you speak. Here is an extract from my digital course in British accent coaching. I often look at the following two sounds together, as the mouth position required is similar.



IPA Symbol

æ and e


‘a’ ‘e’



a cat (æ)


e bed (e)

ea bread (e)

ai said (e)

ie friend (e)

eo leopard (e)

æ Vowel
This vowel resonates far back in the mouth, just above the back of the tongue. The back of the tongue comes down in the back of the mouth- this is what creates the short, sharp æ sound. The tip of the tongue rests either in the bottom of the mouth, below the bottom teeth or against the inside of the bottom teeth.  The mouth is wide open; the bottom jaw is lowered and the corners of the mouth are pulled right back. See the image below for the mouth positioning. Please check in a mirror to make sure your mouth takes the same position when pronouncing this sound:

e Vowel

The mouth positioning is very similar to that of the æ vowel; It is just a less exaggerated movement. The differences: the lower jaw is not positioned as low as it is with the æ vowel- the tongue is therefore slightly higher in the mouth. If you position your tongue too low, you may pronounce the æ vowel by mistake, if you position the tongue too high, you may pronounce the ɪ vowel by mistake.

A good way to practice these two vowels is to say æ followed by e, whilst looking in a mirror. You can then monitor your mouth positioning. Also try recording yourself to make sure that you are pronouncing the two sounds accurately.

Please see the mouth position in the image, below:

If you would like to see more, you can purchase my video course via my website: Digital course in British accent coaching

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