Words with EH+R are harder to pronounce than you would think. This video helps you understand what changes in the EH vowel when it’s followed by R. Want to learn more about R-controlled vowels? Check out the whole video by joining Rachel’s English Academy.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over words with EH plus R like in the word AIR.
This video is a small excerpt from a larger video I made for my online school. I’ll put more information about the full video on online school at the end of this video.
EH plus R, like in ‘air’. This is written with a schwa in between, but as you might already know the R is a syllabic consonant, it overpowers the schwa, so you don’t need to worry about making uh–, a schwa sound seperate from the R. First, let’s take the word AIR and break into just the sounds EH and schwa-R. EH,r rr. EH, rr. EHrr, EHrr. That’s not really how we pronounce the word ‘air’. It doesn’t sound quite right to me. Air. Air. That’s how I pronounce it. Not ehrr– but air. Eh- ey- air.
It’s a little more closed than a pure EH. Let’s take a look at a few other people. How are they pronouncing the word?
I’m going to go to Forvo, which is a website where people can record words. It’s a good place to go hear several different takes on the same word. I’m going to listen to the United States speakers.
Air, ey, ey, air. They’re all the same as me. The opening sound is more closed than a pure EH. Let’s slow down the sound. Aaaaaaiiiiiirrr. It’s sort of like an AY diphthong. Not exactly like it, but close. Aaaaaaaiiiiirr. Air, air, air. One mistake that is sometimes made is this: err. There’s no feeling of a vowel before the R. The thing you must do is leave your tongue tip forward at the beginning: aaiir. Then you can pull it back for the R. But if your tongue tip is pulled back from the beginning, it’s just going to sound like er. Air, air. Tongue tip forward. Air, care, share.
In the longer version of this video, I go through each vowel combination with R. Even though I’ve been teaching English for over a decade, I learned some things in doing research for this video! To see the whole video, and almost 100 other videos that you can’t see anywhere else, you can subscribe to my online school Rachel’s English Academy. In the courses in the Academy, I really go in depth with the concepts you might be learning in the YouTube videos. There’s so much audio to train each concept: slow motion, regular pace, and you can download it. I also have two courses that focus 100% on conversation, where you study how Americans actually use language when they are speaking: reduction, idiom, phrasal verbs, and so on. I have so much fun with the Academy, and I give a live class once a month where I work 1-on-1 with a few students in front of everyone so everyone can see how to actually transform your accent.
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