How to use minimal pairs to improve your pronunciation.
by John Grant
In a previous blog post, I mentioned a good way to check your pronunciation is to use a note taking app that has a microphone and read some sentences into your phone to see if your phone can pick up each word accurately. I also touched on using minimal pairs to work on individual sounds.
Minimal pairs are words that are very similar but have one sound that is different. In this blog post, I will give you examples of sentences that focus on sounds that Japanese people find difficult.
Try reading these sentences into your phone using a note taking app to see how accurate your pronunciation is. As you read these sentences, pay attention to where your tongue is in your mouth and your mouth shape.
- æ / ʌ
i. It’s beside the cap . It’s beside the cup .
ii. She sang in front of people. She’s sung in front of people.
iii. It’s fan art. It’s fun art.
2. ɑː / eə
i. It’s not far . It’s not fair .
ii. It’s under the stars . It’s under the stairs .
iii. It’s under your car . It’s under your care .
iv. I don’t like to go near the bar . I don’t like to go near the bear .
3. ʌ / ɑː
i. I don’t like much . I don’t like March .
ii. Don’t get dirt in the cut . Don’t get dirt in the cart .
iii. I damaged his hut . I damaged his heart .
4. ɜː / ɪə
i. He has a blue bird . He has a blue beard .
ii. It’s not really fur . It’s not really fear .
iii. Is it actually her ? Is it actually here ?
5. ɜː / ɑː
i. Is it fur ? Is it fair ?
ii. How much further ? How much, father ?
iii. I used to own a firm . I used to own a farm .
iv. She’s used to be heard . She used to be hard .
6. b / v
i. It’s the best . It’s the vest .
ii. It’s a bet . It’s a vet .
iii. It’s a cupboard table. It’s a covered table.
7. s / ʃ
i. They didn’t suit the man. They didn’t shoot the man.
ii. Please clean the seat . Please clean the sheet .
iii. He saved your head. He shaved your head.
iv. It’s a sign . It’s a shine .
8. s / θ
i. Are you sinking ? Are you thinking ?
ii. I can see her mouse . I can see her mouth .
iii. It could be worse sitting here. It could be worth sitting here.
9. h / f
i. It isn’t hair . It isn’t fair .
ii. I can feel the horse . I can feel the force .
iii. The company wants to hire me. The company wants to fire me.
10. n / ŋ
i. She’s sinner . She’s a singer .
ii. We were sinking in the water. We were singing in the water.
11. l / r
i. You said it was long . You said it was wrong .
ii. Can you collect it and send it to me? Can you correct it and send it to me?
iii. I said I did not want flies in my meal. I said I did not want fries in my meal.
Good luck and keep practicing!