A1 · A2 · B1 · phonetics

English vowel sounds short i /I/ & long I /i:/

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.

Serena’s blog

/ 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?

Here’s an activity that focuses on these different sounds.

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