Phonetic Alphabet


How do we know HOW to pronounce words in English? In today’s episode I share one tip that will help you with pronunciation, I also share some examples with you. I talk about phonetic alphabet! Hope you enjoy today’s epsiode! :)

Links mentioned in this episode:

Phonetics library – The sounds of English and the International Phonetic Alphabet


Transcript (Phonetic Alphabet)

Hey guys, you are listening to the English Made Simple show, this is episode number #92, numero noventa y dos.

Hola and Welcome to the English Made Simple show, my name is Milena from How’s it going over there? Can you hear me ok? Wherever you happen to be right now. I hope you had an amazing week so far!

You know amigos y amigas, the other day I got a compliment for my accent. This is from a native speaker more specifically an Australian native speaker. She asked me: where is your accent from?

I said it’s a mix of different languages, I like to say that I have a hybrid accent – it’s a bit of New Zealand because I spent a long time in Auckland, New Zealand – by the way we say kiwi accent for New Zealand accent, and it’s a bit of Australian accent too, but for the most part it is an Eastern European accent.

However, my accent is not as strong as that of my parents, both my Mum and my Dad speak with a very strong Serbian accent. But guess what my dear listeners, having the accent never stopped them from finding a good job in an English speaking country. So don’t ever let this stop you from speaking English.

And you know what? I never want to lose my accent, because it is who I am, it makes me different from others, and it is my identity. In fact, I’ve done an episode about this, I think it was one of the first ones I did, episode 001 – it’s called Difference between Accents and Pronunciation.

If you have just joined us for the very first time, welcome first of all, I suggest you check out the first 3 episodes of the English Made Simple show, and to my regular listeners as well I also recommend for you guys to check out the episode about Accents and Pronunciation where I emphasize the fact that you don’t need to worry about your accents too much.

It’s important for you to know that Pronunciation and Accents in English are completely different things.

And today amigos, today’s episode is going to be a bit different. We are going to learn about Pronunciation.

How do we know how to pronounce words in English? How do we pronounce specific words in English?

What are some examples of phonetic symbols?

Phonetic Alphabet fact


Let me first start off by telling you that there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, but there are 44 sounds in English language, this is according to the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA for short.

Every sound is represented by a special character in the IPA, the phonetic alphabet.

And if you are wondering what the phonetic alphabet is, I will share a link to the phonetic alphabet in my Facebook Group called English Made Simple, hopefully this helps you understand English pronunciation better.

If you want to improve your English pronunciation I suggest you start learning more about Phonetic alphabet.

By the way, phonetic is spelt as P H O N E T I C and it’s pronounced with an F. Ha! How ironic!
We spell it with a P – P for Peter, and we say it with an F – F for Freddy. How ironic!!

As you know English is full of silent letters and diphthongs…hang on what did you say Milena? Dip – what? Dipthongs – well according to Weon Inteligente: a dipthong is a name given to the sound that’s been created by 2 vowels in a single syllable. The sound may start with one sound but then it moves towards another sound. For example, I’ll give you an example: the word smile, sound, phone, loud and so on. These are called dipthongs.

Unlike Spanish, In English we pronounce vowels differently. For example: A E I O U are not always pronounced as A E I O U in English.

In Spanish this is always pronounced as A E I O U. La vaca eres tu.
Oh no here we go again, kids jokes again!

Let me continue, but in most of the languages stemming from the Latin or Slavic roots, these vowels are pronounced the same as Spanish: A E I O U.

This is why you will notice when you speak with a native English speaker they may find it hard to pronounce some vowels in Spanish. If they attempt to speak in Spanish they will find it really hard to pronounce some of these vowels. Let’s use some names for example: if your name is Rodrigo they would pronounce it as Rodrigo. If your name is Jámes in English this would James. If your name is Horacio in English it would Horatio.

But anyway, today I want you to learn how to pronounce certain vowels and consonants.

When you are speaking English, I want you to focus on pronouncing every syllable and the last letter of every word. Don’t swallow any letters please, unless they are silent ones.

By pronouncing every syllable you will sound more fluent and confident when speaking English. That’s my tip for today!

I know it’s common in Spanish in Chile especially when people speak they swallow or they don’t pronounce the last syllable or they just don’t pronounce the letter S at all.

For example: Donde esta in Chile becomes donde ehtah?

Please don’t do this in English, people won’t understand you if you start swallowing syllables, if you start swallowing letters.

To swallow means tragar in Spanish, don’t swallow letters please… unless they are silent ones ok? :)

So for today, I want you to be aware of how you pronounce words in English. So, I am going to ask you to repeat some words after me.


Phonetic Alphabet Examples Sounds


Now I will give you a short list of the most difficult words for English learners to pronounce. Here they are in a no particular order:

Can’t – which is a contraction of cannot. It’s a long “ae” sound. Don’t say “kant”. Don’t say short ‘a’ …kant….This is the worst insult you can give to someone, it’s slang for – what can I say – a female private organ. I am not going to repeat this word again, I cannot say this word too often because I may be banned from iTunes, so let’s leave it at that.

In British English this contraction of cannot is pronounced: K:ant.
In American English it is: Kent.

You can choose whichever you feel comfortable with and stick with it, ok?

Make sure you pronounce the last letter T in this case.

Also in other contractions such as Don’t or Won’t make sure you pronounce the last letter T.
Don’t or Won’t and NOT Don or Won. Make sure you pronounce the last letter!

The next word, again in a no particular order and I will give you some time to repeat after me.

Card – it’s not ‘car’ it’s card. Pronounce the last letter in this case. Card – last letter D. In Spanish this is tarjeta.

Friend – amigos! Iit’s not friiiend. It’s Friend.

The next one, this is a new word for you guys, this is a new word for you amigos:

Recipe – it’s spelt as R E C I P E and it means receta in Spanish we pronounce it as RECIPE.
A recipe is list of ingredients and followed by a description that shows you how to prepare certain types of dishes or foods. A recipe for Omlette for example, a recipe for a soup…

The next one…

Receipt – It’s spelt as R E C E I P T. In Spanish this means recibo o boleta. This is what you get when you pay for your items in a supermarket or any other shop. When you pay for something you get a receipt at the end. There is a silent P in there.

The next couple of words…

Comfortable or Uncomfortable – comodo o incomodo – so it’s not pronounced as comfor-table. It’s comf’tbl.

The next one is a funny one, my auntie always get this one mixed up It’s vegetable or vegetables!

Vegetable – In Spanish vegetales o verduras – it is not pronounced vege-table, it’s vegetables.

The next word is….

Sheep – Sh is pronounced like a soft Sh not Ch (like Chile) In Spanish Sheep is – Oveja. Sheep is an animal. Sheep has a long ‘iiii’ sound. Cool!

And now words that have letters B – b for Bob and V for Victory. Letters B and V are very confusing from English learners, for many English learners.

For example:

Serviette – servieta in Spanish – it’s not serbiette, it’s serviette. With a V.

The next word:

Vowel – not Bowel – these have different meanings, these two words. Vowel with a V means vocal in Spanish. Bowel with a B means intestine – intestino in Spanish. Bowel and then we have Vowel.

And in English we pronounce letter H whereas in Spanish we don’t pronounce the letter H.

Hello, is not Ello. Helicopter is not Elicoptr. Elicoptero in Spanish. Horrible is not pronounced Oribble, orrible. (In Spanish this is horrible.)

Cool bananas!

Let me just add one word, one more word – Australia.

In English Australia has 3 A’s – three letter A’s – and they are all pronounced differently. In Spanish as well as in Serbian, or most other languages – we simply say Australia. In English it’s Ostrelia.

So, I hope this made sense. These were just a handful of examples, just some random examples I picked up from my students and I wanted to bring it to your attention. These were some pronunciation mistakes that I noticed from a few English learners. But don’t worry be happy, hopefully this episode will help you be more aware of your pronunciation. And don’t forget you can always practise your pronunciation with every episode and every transcript that I have available on my website,

What I would like to do in the next episode, episode #93, which is going to be the Short and Sweet episode, I would like to give you more examples of some tricky and complicated words that we can practise pronouncing together. How about that? Cool!

I hope you found today’s episode useful amigos!

Let me sum up today’s episode, we learnt that there are many different sounds in the English language, more than the letters in the alphabet – there are 26 letters in English alphabet but 44 sounds, oki doki?

To make it easier for you amigos, I will share a link to the Phonetic Alphabet in our exclusive Facebook Group, if you are not in the group yet I recommend you join today.

And if you have enjoyed today’s episode of the English Made Simple show, please share it with your friends who may also find it helpful as well! And secondly: If you have an iPhone and you haven’t already subscribed to the EMS show make sure you subscribe on iTunes, it will really help me spread the message. Thanking you in advance.

You have been an amazing audience as always, I will catch ya later – Until then, Hasta la proxima!

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