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the I sound in "kit"

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Deborah B

Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:16 pm    Post subject: the I sound in "kit" Reply with quote


Manipulating the tongue to create certain vowel sounds- this is my woe. I am trying to teach my spanish speakign student how to make the "I" sound as in "kit" or "it". This sound is depicted on graphs on wikipedia and it is quite wonderful to identify as a first step where the sound is happening. In this case, it is almost to the roof of the mouth (lower then the "i" as in eee in "heat" which is right at the roof, and a little further back in the mouth as well; and so not as forward in the mouth as this eeee (heat) or even its neighbor "e" in bed; in the middle of the two) Now I looking for an actual procedure for controlling the position of the tongue, in the case of vowels (as consonants are fixed against parts of the mouth so the brain can sense where the tongue touches). Does anyone know of a method that students can use for making this "I"?

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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've identified the problem exactly: with vowels, the tongue is in space, not touching anything in particular. Thus it there is nothing students can be told to remember in terms of placement cues.

Accent modification specialists tend to rely just on practice with feedback to help students create the new category of /I/ in their minds. There is no procedure for controlling the tongue besides trial-and-error practice with a responsive teacher, unfortunately.

Get a list of stimulus words with /I/ in them. If you want, it might be helpful to also get a list of words with /i/ in them, that differ only in the vowel sound (ship-sheep, is-ease, hit-heat, etc.). First have the student listen while you say the words. Then have the student point to the word in each pair that you said. This is working on discrimination skills (i.e., can the student hear the difference between the two sounds?). Do that a little. Usually you want to have about 80% accuracy before going onto each next step, just so you know the student has pretty much mastered the skill and is unlikely to backslide and forget what was learned. Once discrimination is going well, then switch roles and have the student say the words. Do this a lot. It will seem boring to you, but students tend to like overpracticing. Tell the student after each word whether they said it well, just okay, or not really right. If they didn't say it well, you should say it three times for them, then ask them to say it again. Eventually you'll want to move on to short phrases with /I/ words in them, then sentences, then orally read paragraphs, then conversation practice.

In my experience, this type of program almost always improves listening comprehension of /i/ and /I/ words. It also helps most students to make clear /i/ and /I/ sounds when they are speaking slowly and carefully. But when students get excited or nervous they tend to forget what they've learned... so don't expect perfection. Vowel sounds are really hard to change.

Best of luck!
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Deborah B

Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks EH. The program you suggested conforms with what I have been doing. It is strange to think that my instincts are working. But, yes, I think what I am draw from your comment is the importance of continual practice, and trying to make this sort of exercise meaningful since progress can actually be had. So really working to JOIN the listening and speaking together and making the feedback IMMEDIATE. Making these exercises the event. Yes, I get it.

Thank you,
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