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Here’s a challenge. Read the following words out loud:

Bot – bought – but – bat

Notice any differences? Believe it or not, all these words have completely different
pronunciations! For a lot of Chileans, they are extremely hard to distinguish. These are called short
vowel sounds and they’re some of the hardest to master for non-native English speakers. You
might be thinking, “Oh, whatever. It’s not like I’m offending anybody!” but be careful, because you
might be!

For example, even the slightest mispronunciation in a phrase like

“You can’t!”
“What beautiful beaches!”
“This is a great picture of us

might get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t believe me? Just change the “a” sound in the first phrase
with a “u” sound and you’ll find yourself seriously insulting somebody!

But don’t fret! We’re here to help you fine tune your ear and untwist your tongue. Below you’ll
find a few tips on how to make short vowel sounds in English.

A: This is a tough one because it doesn’t exist in Spanish, but it’s simpler than you think!
Make an “a” sound just as you would in Spanish, but try rounding your tongue upwards
while you say it. For example, cat.

E: This one’s easy! It sounds just like the “e” in Spanish. For example, pet.

I: To make this sound, pretend as if you just smelled something really gross! Like when you
say, “Ew!”. To help, try rounding your tongue upwards. You may even be touching the
sides of your teeth. For example, fit.

How not to pronounce: Avoid pronouncing it like in Spanish! Or else “fit” will sound like
“feet”.

O: To make this sound, try making the “a” sound in Spanish with your mouth forming an oval
instead of a circle. For example, box.

U: The short “u” sounds like when your hesitating or thinking a lot, like when you say
“Umm…”. For example, cut.

How not to pronounce: Some people pronounce this vowel as if it was an “a” sound in
Spanish, but they’re not the same. Try closing your mouth a little while saying a Spanish
“a” sound, and it’ll sound a lot closer to a short “u” in English!

Have any questions? Don’t worry! Just contact your Competent teacher and we’ll be more than
happy to drill these sounds with you. It’s only a matter of practice, patience and a lot of
perseverance!


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