Front vowels: /i:/ vs /I/

/i:/ and /I/ are two front vowel sounds.  

/i:/ is a long sound. The front of the tongue is raised to the highest possible point: the lips are spread; the tongue is tense, with the rims making a firm contact with the upper molars.
This is the sound which makes English people smile: when they are taking a photo at people they usually say "CHEESE" so that they appear smiling in the picture.
/I/ is a short sound. The tongue is nearer to centre than to front, raised just above the half-close position; the lips are loosely spread; the tongue is lax, with the side rims making a light contact with the upper molars.

Phonologically, /i:/ and /I/ are distinguished by length, but this is not related to real time duration. Before a voiceless consonant /i:/ can be shortened, in fact as short as /I/: beat-bid. The real difference is that /i:/ is a tense vowel whereas /I/ is a lax vowel. 

/i:/: "ee, ea, e, ie, ei, ey, i". For example: see, meat, even, brief, seize, key, machine.
Exceptions: the vowels in these words are also pronounced with /i:/: quay, people, Caesar, phoenix
/I/: "i, y, e, ie, a". For example: sit, crystal, except, sieve, courage.
There are also exceptions. The bold letters in these words are pronounced with /I/: build, busy, women, minute, Sunday, Disney.

Watch this video:

E.1) Tongue twister: decide when to use /i:/ or /I/. Then practice the words individually. Finally, repeat the whole tongue twister:
a) I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit. And on a slitted sheet I sit. I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit. The sheet I slit, that sheet was it.
b) If Freaky Fred Found Fifty Feet of Fruit and Fed Forty Feet to his Friend Frank how many Feet of Fruit did Freaky Fred Find?
E.2) Recognize /i:/ and /I/ in this game. Play games 4 and 5. Good luck!

Do this quizz. Mind the spelling of the words provided and choose /i:/ or /I/.
Hope you enjoy it!
PS: don't forget to write a comment on this post telling us if you find these exercises helpful.


Project: a job interview

In this term we have worked on two units entitled "Meeting up" and "Life choices". In order to assess students, they have been asked to record a video. They must choose an appropriate scene to use as much vocabulary we have seen in these units as possible:

Context: personal life, working life, job interview.
Vocabulary: adjectives for description, relationships, social networking
Functional language: giving opinions, giving advice, talking about oneself, describing pictures of places.

This is the video by Alba Pereda and Tania Catena, two students of 1st of Bachillerato. It is a very good example of a video in which students show that they can use the vocabulary and structures studied in two units. It can be used as a model by other students who have to record a video for a similar activity.


/f/ vs /v/

/f/ and /v/ are two labio-dental fricative sounds.

A) DESCRIPTION: the lower lip makes light contact with the upper teeth, so that the escaping air produces friction. For /f/, the friction is voiceless, whereas for /v/, the friction is voiced.

/f/: "f, ff, ph, gh". For example: fork, off, physics, enough, nephew.
/v/: "v, f". For example: very, of, leave.

C.1. Open this chart, click on FRICATIVE, then click on /f/. Play the video with the mouth picture. Then play the video on the right.
C.2. Watch this video:

Now answer the following questions about these two sounds:
C.2.1. What's the same in both sounds?
C.2.2. What is the difference?

D.1. Open this chart again, click on FRICATIVE, then click on /f/. Play the video with the mouth picture. Then play the video on the right. Listen and repeat the sound and words. Do the same with /v/.
Now watch the video again in order to practice and repeat the sounds and words.
D.2. Finally, try these tongue twisters:
-"My wife gave Mr Snipe's knife a wipe".
-"Violet bet a bat her best vest".
Hope you enjoy it!

PS: once you have done all the activities write a comment on them in this blog.
Pictures in this post:
Author: Banco de imágenes del CNICE.
License: CC: reconocimiento, no comercial, compartir igual.

Listen, answer, check and move on

Here you have a web page with listenings of different levels: advanced, intermediate and elementary. Please go to this particular intermediate listening, play it twice or 3 times if necessary and answer the test. After that, check your answers. Finally, come back to this blog and write a comment on the activity. Please refer to the following points in your comment:
1. Difficulty
2. Right answers
3. Times you played it
Now, if you didn't have any mistakes try an advanced listening and write another comment in the blog. If you did have some mistakes, please try an intermediate listening again and don't forget to write a comment here.


Transcription tool to turn texts into phonetics

Here you have a good transcription tool to transcribe words or texts into phonetics. One of the most interesting characteristics of this tool is that it provides both a BrE or an AmE output.