Pronunciation Practice 👄 DIPHTHONG Vowel Sounds

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Let’s go over the correct pronunciation of some difficult English vowel sounds…

We are practising the pronunciation of diphthongs – when two vowel sounds are pushed together to make a single sound! You can hear diphthong vowel sounds in words like day, boy, and fly. But here’s the tricky part… These sounds are often represented by different letters (guy, sigh, fly and pie all have the same vowel sound!)

HINT: Learning the IPA is helpful because you can actually see the sound you need to pronounce each word correctly!

Get ready to practice with me to improve your accent and sound more natural when you speak English!

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there this is Emma from mmmEnglish, coming at you with another natural English pronunciation lesson.

Now for English learners who want to sound natural, vowels cause headaches. With just five vowel letters in the English alphabet, there are twenty different vowel sounds used in spoken English.

So today I want to focus on three of the most common diphthong vowel sounds.
/eɪ/ as in say
/ɔɪ/ as in boy
/aɪ/ as in like

And if you’re wondering what the heck a diphthong is, don’t go anywhere, I’ll explain it all for you in just a sec.

Before we get started today, a quick reminder to turn on the subtitles just down there if you need to and if you feel like being an absolute champion today, help me to translate this video into your native language so that other people in your country can learn and watch it too.That would be truly spectacular and not to mention, really great English practice for you.

So what the heck is a diphthong? It’s a complicated word that you will probably never really need to use yourself but a diphthong is a type of vowel sound and there are two types of vowels, monophthong, that’s like /ɪ/ /e/ /ɪ/ /ɪ/ /u:/
They’re short and singular sounds.

But diphthongs are a little different because they are a single vowel sound that actually combinestwo vowel sounds together in the same syllable.

In diphthongs, the first sound is stronger than the second one but it’s important that both sounds are made together in the same syllable. Now the reason why this is important for you is because many of you are Italian, Greek, Thai, Spanish, Vietnamese and you don’t actually have this type of vowel sound in your native language so it’s a completely new sound that you need to learn. And for that reason, it’s really common for many of you to mispronounce diphthongs and only use the first sound.

So if you’re only using one sound, then the vowel sound that you’re making is wrong but that’s exactly what you’re doing here, right? We’re going to practise diphthong sounds together and we’ll focus on three of the most common ones.

Now there’s actually eight diphthongs in British and Australian English, there’s only five in American English, but we’re going to practise them together in this lesson today.

Let’s start with /eɪ/ like in ‘say’. Now this sound is made with the /e/ and the /ɪ:/ vowel sound pushed together so it’s /e/ as in ‘egg’ and the /ɪ:/ as in ‘sheep’ vowel sounds.

Now check it out, notice how my mouth moves between those two sounds. So when you’re making a diphthong sound, your mouth needs to move while you are making this sound. For this one, it’s /eɪ/

Right? Are you ready to practise together?

  • day
  • play
  • came
  • take
  • straight
  • complain
  • translation
  • imagination

Ready for this?

It’s a shame I’m not able to name everyone on the plane.

Let’s try /ɔɪ/ as in ‘boy’. Now this sound is made from the /ɔ:/ and the /ɪ:/ vowel sounds. /ɔ:/ like in ‘bought, and /ɪ:/ like in ‘sheep’.
/ɔɪ/ like in ‘boy’.

Again, notice how quickly my mouth moves between these sounds. to make one sound. The diphthong sound.

Practise with me.

  • toy
  • employ
  • noise
  • join
  • avoid
  • annoy
  • oil

Alright, let’s try this one together.

Avoid those annoying boys and their noisy toys.

Okay number three. /aɪ/ like in ‘bike’.
Now this sound is the /æ/ and the /ɪ:/vowel sounds together. /æ/ like ‘cat’.


So again, notice how quickly your mouth moves to make that sound squish together into one sound. Two sounds into one sound. Practise with me.

  • hike
  • eye
  • child
  • style
  • spy
  • cycle
  • inspire
  • require
  • admire
  • delight

So all together now, let’s go.

The child admired the cyclist in delight.

Great stuff! So now that your mouth is warmed up and ready to practise, we’re going to step things up a bit, okay?

The next sentences that you see are going to be combinations of those sounds so I want you to watch and listen and then repeat. Don’t leave me hanging, all right? This is practice for you, not for me.

First one.

As a child, I used to ride my bike and play outside all day
They say her style is inspired by her wild imagination.
We couldn’t avoid the crazy weather, so we stayed inside and admired the rain.

What a workout! Nice work to you! Your tongue and your mouth must be feeling a little exhausted after all of that so if you feel like you need to take a little break, fine, but make sure you come back to this lesson tomorrow and the next day and practise again and again. It’s just like doing sit-ups or push-ups at the gym. Each time you do it, it will get a little easier and then you’ll start making these sounds more naturally yourself as you speak.

So I hope that you enjoyed this lesson. If you did, please give it a like and write me a comment below. Subscribe just down here if you haven’t already. I make new English lessons here every week and I would love to have you visit more frequently.

To keep working on your English pronunciation, then check out these lessons right here. They’re going to be really helpful for you! I’ll see you in there!

Links mentioned in the video

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