Using Photos of Yourself to Teach Vowel Quality

Happy Summer people. I’m procrastinating massively despite a massive marking pile and a dissertation to finish. This was something that came up as a bit of Focus on Form (reactive, explicit language work).

In Japanese /æ/ and /ʌ/ are basically allophonic. They are the same sound to my learners. They hear no difference. I’m too far from the original mistake through overused /æ/ but I had problems getting my students to see the difference between the two phonemes. Having the luxury of a phone, a computer and a projector…



A gormless face is optional. This could also work for /ɪ/ and /iː/, and /ʊ/ and /uː/.

Anyway, just an idea.

3 thoughts on “Using Photos of Yourself to Teach Vowel Quality

  1. That pair of sounds is a massive problem for Slavic speakers, and frustrating for me at times as it means none of them can pronounce my name properly! I find it useful to get them to:
    – put their index finger on their nose
    – put their thumb on their chin
    – move between the sounds
    That way they can feel that /æ/ is slightly wider than /ʌ/. If their fingers aren’t moving, then they’re not differentiating between the sounds enough.
    Hope that helps and good luck with the dissertation!


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