How To Identify Vowel Sounds in English (WAEC, JAMB)

Are you finding it hard to understand and answer questions on vowel sounds in JAMB and WAEC English test of orals?

In this lesson…

You will learn the pronunciation of the 20 vowel sounds and how to identify and answer them in your JAMB or WAEC questions.


ALSO SEE: How To Identify And Answer Questions On Consonant Sounds

Take note.

A link for you to practice real past questions on vowel sounds is included at the bottom of this lesson.

How to identify vowel sounds

In your WAEC or JAMB exam,

You will either be given a word with underlined letter(s) or a phonetic symbol to find the vowel sound.

For a word with underlined letter(s):

  1. Pronounce the word.
  2. Note the sound of the underlined letter(s).
  3. Pronounce the options.
  4. Pick the option that has the same vowel sound as the question.

For a phonetic symbol:

  1. Pronounce the symbol.
  2. Pronounce the options.
  3. Pick the option that has the same vowel sound as the phonetic symbol.

1. Vowel sound /ı/

/ı/ is pronounced the same way you say the letter “E” in the alphabet.

  • sit
  • chip
  • lift
  • bit

2. Vowel sound /ı:/

/ı:/ is the longer version of /ı/ above.

It is pronounced the same way you say the letter “E” but a little longer — “EEE

  • seat
  • cheap
  • people
  • beat
  • leave

3. Vowel sound /e/

/e/ is pronounced like “eh” or as if you are about to say the word “ate“.

  • bed
  • dead
  • pen
  • net
  • left

4. Vowel sound /æ/

/æ/ is pronounced like a short “ah” or as if you are about to say “ant“.

  • man
  • cat
  • hand,
  • charm
  • black.

5. Vowel sound /ɑː/

/ɑː/ is the longer version of /æ/ above.

It is pronounced the same way with “ah” but a bit longer — “ahh“.

  • car
  • cart
  • heart
  • laugh
  • sergeant

6. Vowel sound /ɒ/

/ɒ/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the word “or“.

The pronunciation is short and sharp.

  • off
  • shot
  • lorry,
  • cough
  • want.

7. Vowel sound /ɔː/

/ɔː/ is the longer version /ɒ/ above.

It is pronounced the same way you say the word “or” but a little longer — “orrr

  • short
  • roar
  • broad
  • war
  • before

8. Vowel sound /ʊ/

/ʊ/ is pronounced like that final sound you hear when you say the word “who“.

The pronunciation is short and sharp.

  • put
  • book
  • woman
  • could

9. Vowel sound /uː/

/uː/ is the longer version of /ʊ/ above.

It is pronounced like that final sound you hear when you stretch the word “whooo“.

  • rude
  • chew
  • group
  • shoe
  • soon

10. Vowel sound /ʌ/

/ʌ/ is pronounced like “uh“.

It sounds somehow similar to /æ/ but more relaxed.

  • son
  • love
  • enough
  • come
  • blood

11. Vowel sound /ɜː/

/ɜː/ is pronounced like “err” or as if you are about to say the word “early“.

Curl your tongue upward so the tip is touching the roof of your mouth.

  • person
  • church
  • bird
  • word
  • journey.

12. Vowel sound /ə/

/ə/ is pronounced like a short “are” or as if you are about to say the word “allow“.

  • anger
  • beggar
  • about
  • mother
  • extra

13. Vowel sound /aɪ/

/aɪ/ is pronounced exactly the way you say the letter “i” or the way you say the word “eye“.

  • time
  • die
  • height
  • buy
  • cry

14. Vowel sound /ɑʊ/

/ɑʊ/ is pronounced like that first two sounds you hear when you say the word “out”, or when you say “out” without the T.

  • how
  • loud
  • mouth
  • shout
  • proud

15. Vowel sound /əʊ/

/əʊ/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the letter “O” in the alphabet.

  • go
  • slow
  • soul
  • hoe
  • follow

16. Vowel sound /ɔɪ/

/ɔɪ/ is pronounced like when you say the word “oil” without the “L”.

  • boy
  • coil
  • annoy
  • toy
  • soil

17. Vowel sound /ʊə/

/ʊə/ is pronounced like you are saying “uwor“.

  • poor
  • tour
  • sewer
  • pure

18. Vowel sound /ɪə/

/ɪə/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the word “ear“.

  • tier
  • weird
  • beer
  • mere.

19. Vowel sound /eə/

/eə/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the word “air“.

  • bare
  • heir
  • fair
  • care
  • there

20. Vowel sound /eɪ/

/eɪ/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the letter “A” in the alphabet.

pay, great, gay, grey, eight

Classwork

Click on the link below to practice real past questions on Vowel Sounds now.

Practice Test

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