English Communication Confidence Blog

American English Pronunciation Of The Alphabet

May 17, 2022

Saying the letters of the alphabet correctly comes in handy more often than we think. Do you ever need to spell your name to someone over the phone or does your company use a lot of acronyms at work? Learn this important lesson about how to say the letters of the American English alphabet with today's post.


Video Transcript:

Hello everybody. It is me. Jill. I'm here. And I'm so excited because I found an exercise I want to show you. A lot of my students are talking about how important it is, the pronunciation of sounds. And, you know, I spend a lot of time talking about rhythm and melody and all of that good stuff that I love when it comes to communication. But I know how important pronunciation is for you. And I've talked about vowel sounds and I've talked about consonants. So I just want to point something out to you. I think this is really cool. Let me, uh, let me see. So what are we looking at here?


We are looking at an alphabet chart. And if I move myself down here, you, so basically if you look at the top of the screen, you see the sound here, A, you see the sound E. You see the sound EY. You see the diphthong, AI. You see the O the AH and the U. And the reason that these are all on the top of the screen is because every letter, when you pronounce the letter belongs in one of these columns. So it's really cool because if you take the sound A and you go down, you see A. You see ACH. You see JA. And you see KA. You see that.


So, you know, so if your initials are A H J, the initials of your name, you would want to say that full diphthong. A. You want to get that sound when you pronounce these letters. So repeat after me. First, say, A. And then just the example word is day. Say day. And then we'll just go down the row, down the column. I want you to say A. A. And I want you to glide. I want you to use melody. I still want to bring that to you. Then say, ACH. So you get that A... And then a CH. ACH. And then you're gonna say, Jay. Jay. So you get the J in the front, and then the A. One more time. And then we have K. So you start with the K sound and you finish with the A.


Get it? It's pretty cool, right?


So now, if we look over here, E as in the word "See." Say that, see. We get that big smile, E. And then look at all these letters that have E. We have B, C, D, and I'm doing a big smile. So just repeat that after me, B, C, D, E, G, P, T, V, Z. When you say letters, remember to use gliding and moving and holding of the vowel sound.


Let's keep going. EH. EH. EH. Like the word met, met. F, L, M, N, S, X. Got it? Cool.


All right, here we are. This is the, AI. AI. It's the diphthong. You move through that sound. My. Say "MY". Good. And then we only have two letters here. We have I, and Y. Y.


Now, remember, these are the pronunciations of the letters themselves, not how you would pronounce the sound in a word. So these are how to say the letters, the alphabet.


Here we have. O. Go. O. And the only sound we have there is, O.


And then we have, AH. As in mom, and we only have one there. R. R. Got it?


And look at this, the last one. OO, blue. Q. Q, right? /k/ /u/ Q which basically is the U with a K sound in front of it. So when I say the letter, it's Q. When I pronounce the word quiet, it's a K and a W. So don't confuse that. This is just the name of the letter, Q. And then here W. So, we get that OO sound.


And I just wanted to share this chart with you, because I think that it's just, it's informative. And I think it'll really help you, especially when you say the initials for your name or the initials for anything else. So good luck. I hope you enjoy it. Remember to like, to share, and to subscribe to the channel. And I hope to meet you all sometime soon. BYE!


Check out these FAQs related to today's post:

Q. Is the American English alphabet pronunciation different from the British Pronunciation?

A. Good question and the answer is yes! Not every letter, but some of the letters have a completely different name. Like Zee for example. Do you know how the Brits say that word? They say Zed.  And /h/? Americans say aitch and the Brits put the /h/ in front and pronounce it as haitch. Americans got our pronunciation from the French who don't pronounce the /h/ in an initial position of a word. Some folks say that the pronunciation of aitch with the /h/ at the front gets the actually letter into the pronunciation of the letter. Do you see what I mean? Now, with regards to the pronunciation of other letters in American vs. British English, the shape of the vowels that we use to say each letter varies depending on the accent. So, you'll hear all kinds of pronunciations really. 

Q. Can I find some tool, app or game to play and learn the American English Alphabet Pronunciation?

A. Well, the app that I love for vowels is an app called Blue Canoe. It doesn't focus so much on the pronunciation of the names of the letters themselves, but you can learn the shape of each vowel sound that is the chart we talked about today. That's important to get right. Oh, and you can also check out The Sounds Of Speech App. Again, they teach you the sounds of American English and aren't focused on just the alphabet. But, this app is great because it shows you images and videos of what the articulators are doing when producing vowels and consonants in English. I highly recommend it. 

Q. My tongue gets tied a lot when I try to speak English. People think I am mumbling, but some sounds are just so hard to say. Can you recommend anything to help me improve my pronunciation? 

 A. I have focused my programs around the intonation patterns and rhythm of American English for years because enunciating the language perfectly is difficult for a reason. It's like if you twist or break an ankle. If you do the exercises that the physical therapist gives you in the morning and the night, you will strengthen the muscle and get it back to basically its original state. If however, you only do the exercises sometimes, there is a better chance that you're ankle will stay weak and perhaps you may fall or hurt yourself again. Speech is a muscle. many of the articulators in the mouth are muscles--the tongue is a muscle, the cheeks, etc. if you are ready to put in the regimen necessary to learn the /th/ sound, for example, you will get strong and clear with the sound. But, it truly requires discipline and repetition. Unlike what many adults think, we are able to create new cells in our memory for sounds that we are learning. BUT, and here's the big BUT, it only happens by following the doctor's orders. 

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