Pure Listening #1: the vowel sounds in hit vs. heat


Manage episode 326062224 series 2931064
By Ollie says listen up!. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

This podcast is the first in a series of what I will call pure listening. I will not show you the written text. Why? Because English spelling is terrible. It’s a distraction. It interferes with close listening. If you are ever to learn the sounds of English, you need to listen a lot and listen carefully.
Remember this: when babies are learning their native language, they do NOT learn by reading. They listen and then, slowly, they begin to speak. Listening comes first. Thousands of hours of listening.
Don’t worry if you don’t know all the words in this podcast. IT DOESN’T MATTER! This is not a podcast to teach you vocabulary. It is a podcast to help you correctly hear and distinguish the vowel sounds in “hit” and “heat”. (In IPA: /ɪ/ or /i/).

Please note that I am NOT talking about the sounds that “letters” make. Please forget that idea. Letters don’t “make” sounds. They represent sounds and in English they represent them very poorly. (I was recently reminded that the the numbers “one” and “two” are perfect examples of how poorly English language represents spoken English. Pretend these are words in French or Spanish or German and read them aloud. A disaster!)

So let me say it again: this podcast is to help you listen and hear. It has nothing at all to do with writing or spelling English. It has everything to do with improving your hearing and then, later, your pronunciation.


1) Listen to all of the podcast. Just listen—don’t try to repeat. Listen closely to the examples. Do not worry about the meanings of the words. If you recognize them, that’s fine but if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Your job is to get these sounds into your brain by repeated listening. Before you can pronounce the sounds, you have to have an accurate memory of them. Then, and only then, can you begin to train your mouth and lips and tongue to produce them.

2) After you have listened ten times or fifty times or a thousand times to this podcast, go to the next podcast which will give you a chance to listen and repeat. If you are not sure of your pronunciation, come back to this podcast and listen some more. I have never met a language learner who said, “Oh, I listened too much.” Or “I listened too carefully.” It is easy to listen too little. It is impossible to listen too much.

Let me end this long introduction with an example of careful listening. I was having a conversation with my friend Juan in Colombia and he suddenly stopped me and said, “You said that as one word!” “Said what?” I asked. “Met her,” he replied. “You didn’t say ‘You met her yesterday’, you said ‘You meder yesterday.”

And Juan was quite correct. We write “You met her.” But in normal speed English, I say “meder’. The ’t’ sound becomes a ‘d’ sound and the ‘h’ in ‘her’ is dropped [repeat example several times]

Now that’s careful listening.

Let’s begin. Remember, this is a listening podcast. The next podcast will give you a chance to listen and repeat.

Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com

94 episodes