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Vowel Power® FAQ

1. Why not use the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)?


The IPA is for descriptive purposes. Vowel Power is prescriptive. In other words, Vowel
Power is teaching you how to produce and recognize the 11 American English vowel
sounds. The IPA is a catalog of phonetic sounds found in all languages. Also, rather than
using obscure symbols to represent the sounds, Vowel Power uses ordinary English
letters in brackets that are easily relatable to the sound being represented.

2. Do my vowel sounds really need to be “perfect”? Won’t people understand me


anyway?
Producing the right vowel sound is extremely important, not only to avoid confusion and
misunderstanding—but also to “train” your ear to recognize these sounds when others
speak. Yes, people may understand you anyway, or at least most of what you are saying,
but at what cost? You are making them work very hard to understand you, and they will
also question your ability to understand what they are saying. Learning the 11 American
English vowel sounds with Vowel Power is straightforward and fairly easy. The
confidence and comprehension you will gain is well worth the time you will spend on this
course.

3. Do I need to do the lessons in order? What if I only need to practice a couple of the
vowel sounds?
Don’t cheat yourself. It may be true that you only need work on a few of the vowel
sounds, but you also may find that you need work on some of the others as well. Also,
Vowel Power is a systematic learning method that provides accelerated learning. To
benefit from this method, you need to do the units in order. If you do not master each unit
before going on, you will have unnecessary trouble in later units.

4. What about consonants? Aren’t they also important? My “th” needs work, for example.
Of course consonants are important! Vowels, however, are much, much more important.
And having the correct vowel sounds makes the consonants easier to pronounce because
the words in English have evolved with vowels and consonants together. The most
difficult consonants in English (th, z, s, r, l) are included in Vowel Power.
5. Don’t I need a native speaker to tell me if I am saying the words correctly?
Vowel Power teaches you the mechanics of production for each of the vowel sounds,
including pictures and descriptions. Native speakers are usually not trained in their own
language (they didn’t have to learn it!), so they are often not able to explain things
correctly to you. Speaking with native speakers is the best way to test and improve your
pronunciation of course, so you should speak with them as much as possible! Also, Vowel
Power will soon have video conferencing (like Skype) lessons available with certified
Vowel Power ESL teachers so that you can get qualified feedback on your pronunciation.
The Vowel Power course is the best self-study method available for learning the correct
pronunciation of the 11 American English vowel sounds.

6. Some words have multiple accepted pronunciations. How do you account for that in
Vowel Power?
That is true. There are quite a few regional differences in American English
pronunciation. The pronunciation used in Vowel Power is a standard American English
pronunciation that will be understood by all native speakers of American English.
Variations and slang shortcuts are often noted.

7. Don’t consonants affect vowel sounds? How do you teach that?


Of course consonants affect vowel sounds. Consonants change the shape of your mouth,
your lips, and your tongue position. At times, vowel sounds are definitely shaped or
rounded somewhat by consonants. But when you are able to produce the correct vowel
sound, you will adjust easily, and it will be a very minor alteration that will not change
the essence of the vowel sound. When you slow the word down, you hear the vowel sound
in its basic, unaltered form. The vowel sound is primary; it’s the breath needed to speak.
Remember also that consonants and vowels in a word have developed together over a
long time. They fit together like a hand in a glove. When you get the vowel sound right,
the consonants will wrap beautifully around it.

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