As a start for this year, here’s another video on English vowel sounds. This video is for short and long i sounds that are often confused by learners of English. At the end of the video you have a short listening activity to practise distinguishing the sound between two words that have a very similar sound, but have a different meaning.
/ɪ/ for ship
- This sound is a short ‘i’.
- In English words the sound is in: ship, chip and bitter.
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /ʃɪp/ /tʃɪp/ /’bɪtə/
/iː/ for sheep
- This sound is a long ‘i’.
- In English words the sound is in: sheep, cheap and beetle.
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /ʃi:p/ /tʃi:p/ /’bi:tl/
/i/ for happy
- This sound is a long ‘i’ but not as long as /i:/.
- In English words the sound is in and always at the end of these words: funny, honey and funky.
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /ˈfuni/ /ˈhʌni / /fʌnki /
Problems usually happen when a learner of English doesn’t pronounce some English words correctly. Words that are often confused are: sheep/ship, sheet/shit, beach/bitch, cheap/chip, leave/live, peace/piss , just to set some of the most common examples (sorry, but it wouldn’t be the first time or the last that I come across some issues of this kind!). This basically happens due to students making mistakes between long i /i:/ and short i /I/ and actually, there’s nothing wrong in not having a perfect pronunciation, but when the meaning doesn’t get across, we do have a problem because it means that communication is failing, which is the whole point behind learning a new language, isn’t it?