The English Alphabet

The English language has two alphabets. One, the common letters, is used for writing; the other, the sound letters or phonemes, is used for speaking. The common letters of the English alphabet  consist of 26 letters divided into 2 broad groups: vowels and consonants. We have 5 vowels and 20 consonants. In addition, we have 1 letter that doubles as a semi vowel and a semi consonant.


The 5 vowels are 

1. a

2. e

3. i

4. o

5. u


The consonants are

1. b

2. c

3. d

4. f

5. g

6. h

7. j

8. k

9. l

10. m

11. n

12. p

13. q

14. r

15. s

16. t

17. v

18. w

19. x

20. z

Letter Y

Letter Y doubles as a semi vowel and semi consonant.

Does it really matter how we say the names of letters of the English alphabet? Why is it absolutely necessary that we know the correct pronunciation of the names of the letters of the English alphabet? We have two reasons, namely, for spelling and reference purposes. This means that we have to say the names of these letters correctly when we are spelling words. And when making reference to any of the letters, for instance, a teacher may ask the class, “What is the meaning of UN?” This question cannot be asked without the mention of the two leaders. We also use the names of the letters when saying abbreviations, and when they are used to number items.

Now, let’s first consider the tone used in saying the names of the 26 letters. When teaching learners the names of the letters, we say them in the fallen tone. Can you tell the difference between A. and A? A. is said in the fall tone. A? is said in the rise or question tone.


1. How many English alphabets do we have?

2. How many vowels and consonants does the English alphabet have?

3. Where would you place letter Y? Is it a vowel or a consonant?

4. Why do you think it is important we know how to pronounce letter names correctly?

5. Do an audio recording of the English alphabet in the fallen tone and in the rising tone.

Send your answers directly to me on Telegram.


Pronunciation Tutor

Practice the pronunciation of the following words using the clues provided.

1. Listenlis’nlɪsən
2. Correctionk’reksh’nkə.rek.ʃən
3. Alphabetalf’betæl.fə.bet
4. Vowelvow’lvaʊəl
5. Consonantkons’n’ntkɒn.sə.nənt
6. Instanceinst’nsɪn.stəns 
7. Importantimport’ntɪm.pɔ:.tənt
8.  Pronouncepr’naunsprə.naʊns
9. Providedpr’vaid’dprə.vaɪ.dɪd
10. Questionkwesh’nkwe.ʃən 

Lesson 2A

Saying the Names of Letters of the English Alphabet

In this lesson, we’ll focus on the difficult-to- pronounce letters of the alphabet:

A. A /eɪ/

B. H /eɪts/

C. J /dʒeɪ/

D. K /keɪ/

E. O /ou/ or /əʊ/

F. Q /kju:/

G. R /aː/ or /ar/

H. W /dʌbəl uː/

I.  X /eks/

J. Z /zi:/ or /zed/

These letters are difficult-to-pronounce because they either slide from one sound to another or because they are inherently mispronounced. So then, in saying the first 4 letters, slide from e to i. That is e—–i: A= e—i; H= e—i ch; J= je–i; K= ke—i.

Letter O slides from o to u: o—u.

Letter Q has a y/j/ sound after k. This gives us kyou.

Letter R is either a single sound /aː/ or a double sound/a–r/.

Letter W is easy to pronounce. It’s simply double you.

Letter X makes 3 sounds: e–k–s.

Letter Z can be pronounced in 2 different ways: zed (British) or zi: (American).


1. Pronounce and record the words listed below:

a. Listen

b. Correction

c. Alphabet

d. Vowel

e. Consonant

f. Instant

g. Important

h. Pronounce

i. Provided

j. Question

2. Do an audio recording of the difficult-to-pronounce letters.

Lesson 2B

Pronunciation Tutor

Practice the pronunciation of the following words using the clues provided.

1. Adamad’m     ædəm
2. Chocolatechok’l’t   tʃɒkelət
3. Successfuls’ksesfl    səksesfəl
4. Attentiontensh’n   ətenʃən
5. Attendancetend’ns   ətendəns
6. Studentstyoud’nt   stjuːdənt
7.  Trophytrohfi       trəʊfi
8.  Pupil         pyoupl    pjuːpəl
9. Principal      prins’pl   prɪnsəpəl
10. Academy     kad’mi     əkædəmi



Objective:  to simplify the understanding of the English sound system, and help learners articulate them all in the shortest time possible.

Outcome: During the lesson presentation, learners shall focus on what is important only, easily grasp the lesson and eventually articulate the sounds using them in their everyday speech.

While the English alphabet comprises 26 letters, the English sound system is made up of 44 sounds called phonemes. The English sounds are divided into 20 vowels/va.wls/ and 24 consonants. The vowels/va.wls/ are divided into 12 pure vowels and 8 diphthongs. In this lesson, for clarity and easy comprehension, we are dividing the English Sound System into two groups:

  •     Odd in shape and sounds
  •     Common/ko.m’n/ sounds

The common/ko.m’n/ sounds are sounds that we make when speak our native languages.The odd in shape and sounds are sounds that don’t occur when we speak our native languages. Because they don’t occur in your native language—your mother tongue—you find them difficult/di.f’h.klt/ to produce/pr.dyous/ or articulate, and at best, you make them sound like the sounds you already know.

We shall divide the odd in shape sounds into consonants/kon.s.n’nt and vowels/va.wl/



Words uttered in your native language, quite too often, correspond with the letters of the alphabet of the language. It’s not so in English. The English language has two sets of letters—one for writing and the other for speaking. Some letters or symbols/sim.bls/ used in representing the utterances we make are odd in shape, as you can see above. However, even when these letters are odd in shape, some of them make familiar sounds. Consonants/kon.s.n’nts/ such as ʃ, ʧ, ʤ, and ŋ make familiar sounds. And the vowels æ, ɔ:, ʊ, and ʌ are not strange sounds. They are only odd in shape not in sound.

We shall henceforth refer to these letters as phonemes. The phonemes θ and ð remind us of the digraph th. ʒ is the common sound of letter s when u is in front of it—su. The phoneme ʧ reminds us of the digraph ch and the letter t with u in front of it—tu. The phonemes ɒ and ɔ: are the dominant sounds of letter o. The digraphs ur and ir  are the common spellings for the phoneme З:. The phoneme ə reminds us of all the common vowels—a, e, i, o, u.


Consonants            Vowels

  1. /m/                  /i/
  2. /p/                   /ɪ/
  3. /b/                   /e/
  4. /f/                   /ɔ/
  5. /v/                   /ʊ/
  6. /n/                   /u/
  7. /t/                    /ʌ/
  8. /d/
  9. /s/

10. /z/

Virtually all the common/ko.m’n/ sounds are found and heard in your native language. While there are slight differences in the quality and quantity of some these phonemes, they are not totally strange.


Consonants (continued)

  1. /l/    
  2. /r/
  3. /ʃ/    
  4. /ʧ/
  5. /ʤ/  
  6. /j/
  7. /ŋ/    
  8. /k/
  9. /g/   
  10. /w/
  11. /h/











We see these sounds as special because they are double or two sounds. Phoneticians call them diphthongs. Furthermore, we do not have these sounds in our native languages. Take for instance, when two vowels stand side by side in Yoruba language as in Adeola, when pronouncing the word, we separate E from O and say, Ade.ola. Likewise, in the word OLE, we simply say OLE/ole/. If OLE were an English word, it will be pronounced as OLE/əʊle/. Here letter O makes a diphthongal or two sounds.








These sounds are said to be long because we spend more time uttering them. So they have length marks (:). The length mark tells you to linger on the sound a bit.


Lesson 3A

1. How many English alphabets do we have?

2. How many English phonemes do we have?

3. The English sound system comprises how many vowels and consonants?

4. Briefly state the difference between your language and English language in speaking and writing.

5. Differentiate between common sounds and odd sounds.

6. Make an audio recording of the odd in shape and sound consonants and vowels

Lesson 3B

When a word ends in DOM, we drop the O and pronounce the end part as D’M. Try applying this rule as you attempt pronouncing the words below:

  1. Random
  2. Freedom
  3. Wisdom
  4. Kingdom
  5. Seldom
  6. Sodom
  7. Edom
  8. Condom
  9. Boredom
  10. Stardom


Lesson 3B

1. What do the words above have in common? 

2. How many syllables does each one of them have?

3. Please, do an audio recording of the words below:

  1. Rand’m
  2. Freed’m
  3. Wisd’m
  4. Kingd’m
  5. Seld’m
  6. Sod’m
  7. Ed’m
  8. Cond’m
  9. Bored’m
  10. Stard’m

Lesson 4A


Generally, we see vowels as sound letters or sound phonemes. This means that without vowels, it’s near impossible to produce sounds when words are written. For instance, we are not able to distinctly pronounce bd, cb, dn, gd, and more of such examples without associating them with vowels. Now, let’s add vowels to them and see how easy it is to say them: bed, cab, din, god. You can see why vowels are best defined as sound letters.

So, then, to help us speak and read well, we must be mindful of how we produce vowel sounds. In pronouncing vowels, take notice of this: vowels are long by nature, long in position, long in duration. Attention is often given to the quality of sound production when uttering short vowels by educated speakers.

A vowel is long by nature when its sound corresponds with its name: A, E, I, O, U. The A in made; the E in be; the I in rice, the O in Cope, the U in use, clearly explains how vowels are long by nature. Also, in Standard English, diphthongs, that is double sounds, are long by nature. Here are some examples: /eɪ/, /əʊ/, /aʊ/, /aɪ/, /ɪə/, /eə/, /ɔɪ/. When a vowel is long by nature, you naturally will make long the sound whether you are a good speaker of English or not.

I am classifying some vowels as long in duration because of the quantity of time we spend saying them compared to their short forms. This is a list of vowels that are long in duration: /i:/, /u:/, /ɔ:/, /3:/, /ɑ:/. We hear these sounds in such words as: SEAT, POOL, PORT, DIRT, PART. Let’s contrast vowels long in duration from the short vowels: seat and sit—/si:t/ and /sɪt/; pool and pull—/pu:l/ and /pʊl/; port and pot—/pɔ:t/ and /pɒt/; dirt and debt—/d3:t/ and /det/; part and pat—/pa:t/ and /pæt/.

Some vowels are long in position when we take a close look at them. This happens, especially, when a short vowel precedes letter N. Compare these pairs: sad/sand; set/sent; tin/tint; pod/pond; fun/fund.

It is important that we make a clear distinction between short and long sounds when we speak and read so we don’t confuse or mislead our audience. Being confused or misled can lead to serious misunderstanding. Don’t say, “Seat down”, when you mean, “Sit down”. They don’t send the same message. Don’t say, “I saw the pot”, when you mean, “I saw the port”. They don’t convey the same thought. In fact, they are completely two different thoughts.


  1. What is a vowel? Illustrate.
  2. What must we take notice of when producing vowel sounds?
  3. When is a vowel long by nature?
  4. Give 5 examples of vowels that are long by nature, and long in duration.
  5. What happens when a short vowel precedes letter N?

Audio Project 1

Say the following minimal pairs: seat and sit—/si:t/ and /sɪt/; pool and pull—/pu:l/ and /pʊl/; port and pot—/pɔ:t/ and /pɒt/; dirt and debt—/d3:t/ and /det/; part and pat—/pa:t/ and /pæt/.

Lesson 4B


You have been given a guide as to how to pronounce the words listed below. The clues tell you that some vowels are usually dropped for us to correctly pronounce polysyllabic words. For example, when pronouncing LONDON, we drop the last O, and say LON.d’n. Please, notice that the apostrophe in the clue column tells you that a vowel has been dropped, and must not be said as you pronounce the word. Now, with the aid of the guide below and a talking dictionary, practice saying the words listed below. This is your second audio project. Enjoy it.

 WORDS      P   R   O   N   U   N   C   I   A   T   I   O   N