Pronunciation Exercises: Front, Central and Back Vowels

Vowels are classified in a couple of different ways, one of those ways is the frontness of articulation, which indicates the part of the tongue used to pronounce the vowel.

According to the frontness of the articulation, we have

#1Front Vowels
#2Central Vowels
#3Back Vowels

Let’s check what front, central and back vowels are and example of words in each of those three categories

Front, Central and Back Vowels

Front Vowels: These are produced with the front part of the tongue. There are 5 front vowels

  1. / i: / as in beat ( High Front Unrounded)
  2. / e / as in bet (Mid-Low Front Unrounded)
  3. / ɪ / as in fist ( Mid-High Front Unrounded)
  4. / æ / as in bat (Low Front Unrounded)

Central Vowels: These are produced with the middle of the tongue. There are central vowels:

  1. The first of the high vowels is /uː/ (as in food)
  2. The second high vowel is /ʊ/ as in good.
  3. The vowel made with mid tongue elevation is /ɔ:/ (as in caught).
  4. The vowel with the lowest tongue elevation is /ɑ:/ (as in palm).
  5. The final vowel  with slightly higher tongue elevation and slightly retracted tongue position is the sound /ɒ/ (as  cot, pot and lot)

Back Vowels: These are produced with the part of the tongue closest to the throat. There are 3 Central vowels

  1. / ʌ / as in cup
  2. / ɜː / as in Learn
  3. / ə / as in about

Front, Central and Back Vowels- Lesson Plan

Students will be able to identify front, central and back vowels in spoken language.

Pre-Task

Teacher reviews each one of the concepts:

  1. Central Vowels
  2. Back Vowel
  3. Front Vowels

Task

This task has to do with identifying the different type of vowel sounds in spoken language.

Follow these instruction to carry out this activity

  1. Teacher ask students to bring their smartphones and earphones to the class in advance
  2. Students get together in groups of three.
  3. Teacher sent the link via whatsapp or email to the students and you have to indicate which file each group has to download.
  4. Once students has download the tracks, they have to assign a track to each member of the group
  5. Students listen to track and try to identify front, central and back vowel sounds and write them in the worksheet prepared for this exercise.
  6. Once every group member has finished, they make sure the classification that they did  is correct
  7. When all of groups have finished, they start checking their results with each other.

Post-Task

Teacher will send some words transcribed phonetically so they can figure out what they are. One of the best tools to do this is the Cambridge Online Dictionary

More English Pronunciation Posts

These are some pronunciation posts that might help you improve your English pronunciation

  1. 8 Best English Pronunciation Apps
  2. Word Stress Rules: Guide & Examples
  3. Pronunciation: List of Minimal Pairs
  4. 30 Great English Tongue Twisters
  5. Full Guide to English Pronunciation
  6. Guide to Words with oi and oy
  7. 6 Best Pronunciation Websites
Jose Manuel Campos N - English Professor

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I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share content and lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English