Vowel Movements

, , , | Learning | April 27, 2019

(In most Spanish-speaking countries, the letters “B” and “V” sound exactly alike, which means you have to specify “big B” or “little V” when spelling. This leads to the hilarious mispronunciation of a number of English words. I’m volunteering to help a group of students practice their English, and I’m explaining the use of a/an:)

Me: “‘A’ is used when the next word starts with a consonant, like C, N, or T. ‘An’ is used when the next word starts with a vowel, like E, I, or U.”

Student #1: *muttering to self* “Oh, a bowel…”

Me: “No, no. A vowel. Little V.”

All Students: “Oh, a bowel!”

Me: *laughs* “Nope. Vowel. Little V. In English, big B and little V have two different sounds: B is with your mouth closed, and V is with your upper teeth on your lower lip, like this.” *demonstrates exaggerated movements*

Student #2: *attempting the new pronunciation* “V-v-vowel?”

Me: “Perfect!”

Student #1: “Bowel?”

Me: “No, a bowel is part of your insides — I don’t think you want that. Vowel has a little V. Remember, your teeth have to go on the outside of your bottom lip, like this.” *demonstrates and waits for everyone to copy*

Me: “Exactly!”

Student #1: “Okay… Bow—“

Me: “Not quite!”

Students #2-4: “Like this!” *demonstrate exaggerated mouth movements*

Student #1: “B-b-b-v-v-v-vowel…?”

Me: “Perfect!”

All Students: *cheer*

(After my own mishaps learning other languages, I love teaching them!)

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