Here is an accent reduction tip for Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese speakers.
American English has about 15 vowel sounds. These 15 sounds include several pairs of vowels which are pronounced with your lips and tongue in approximately the same position, but where one vowel sound is considered “tense” and the other is “lax”.
For tense vowel sounds the muscles of the face are engaged. For lax vowel sounds the muscles of the face are relaxed.
Since the tongue positions for the sounds in these tense/lax vowel pairs are so similar, it is often difficult for non-native speakers to pronounce them! Especially the lax ones.
One troublesome tense/lax vowel pair are the /iy/ & /I/ sounds.
The /iy/ sound is often spelled ee or ea. Examples include need, seat, priest, & read.
The /I/ sound is usually spelled with an i. Examples include little, fit, live & slip.
The /iy/ sound is easier for most people to articulate. In many languages such as Spanish and Portuguese this sound is spelled with the letter i.
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Tags: /iy/ & /I/ sounds, Accent Reduction brazilian portuguese speakers, accent reduction spanish speakers, American English vowel sounds