QualityTime-ESL

Your English 63 The /H/ Sound - A Poem


In this episode we offer you a pronunciation guide based on a poem written by a friend and colleague Cordy Roe, who is an excellent teacher.

The letter “H” is difficult for learners as they don’t always know when it is a voiced consonant and when it is silent. The problem with the /H/ sound is that often the meaning is totally different depending on whether the /H/ is pronounced or not. So a mistake of this kind can lead to misunderstandings or make the person listening laugh at your sentence that may be pretty ridiculous. If you want to say, “I like to breathe fresh air” and you pronounce the /H/, people will think you are talking about the hair on someone’s head… as though you liked putting your nose in a person’s hair! So the following poem will help you overcome these difficulties.

Best,

Marianne Raynaud

Recording mp3:

MP3 - 15.7 Mb
Your English 63 The /H/ Sound - A Poem

PDF of script:

PDF - 248.2 kb
Your English 63 The /H/ Sound - A Poem

The poem alone:

PDF - 198.8 kb
The /H/ Sound - A Poem

To get the scripts of the all the recordings go to DVDs (Book-Podcasts-Film).

For advice about using the scripts for pair work in class, see Your English No. 1 and sample script.

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Script: Your English No. 63 The /H/ Sound - A Poem

Hi. I’m Marianne Raynaud. My goal is to help you perfect your spoken English. If you really want to speak English well, we suggest you start at the very beginning of our list of podcasts and work through them systematically. If you happen to be a high intermediate to advanced learner you can choose to do only the episodes intended for your level. We also recommend the QualityTime-ESL Podcasts to enable you to perfect your oral grammar.

In this episode we offer you a pronunciation guide based on a poem written by a friend and colleague Cordy Roe, who is an excellent teacher. The letter “H” is difficult for learners as they don’t always know when it is a voiced consonant and when it is silent. The problem with the /H/ sound is that often the meaning is totally different depending on whether the /H/ is pronounced or not. So a mistake of this kind can lead to misunderstandings or make the person listening laugh at your sentence that may be pretty ridiculous. If you want to say, “I like to breathe fresh air” and you pronounce the /H/, people will think you are talking about the hair on someone’s head… as though you liked putting your nose in a person’s hair! So the following poem will help you overcome these difficulties. Let’s get started.

The /H/ is voiced in words like “happy”, “hair”, “how”, “high”, and “ha, ha, ha” the sound we make when we laugh. Repeat: “happy”, “hair”, “how”, “high”, “ha, ha, ha”.

Now onto our oral work.
The /H/ Poem By Cordy Roe

This poem was inspired by reading Marianne Raynaud’s digital book on teaching. It is thus dedicated to her.

In the first verse we are reminded that we voice the letter /h/ to clean our glasses. You can experiment yourself. Now listen and repeat.

Happy, happy, happy, ha, ha, ha
I shout it out when I am in my car
Or fog up my glasses when I need them real clean
Try it yourself and you’ll see what I mean

In the next verse we practice the words with a voiced /H/: “hair”, “heels”, “hate”, “howl”, “how” and “high”. We also learn the meanings of these words when the /H/ is silent, for example “heir”, “air” (“heir”), “eels”, “8” (“ate”), “owl”, “I”.
Your English No. 63 The /H/ Sound - A Poem (Cont.)

Listen and repeat the second verse.

So let’s learn by heart this little /H/ song
To see what happens if we get it wrong
/Hair/ becomes /heir/, the king’s son or the /air/ in the sky
/Heels/ become /eels/, fish that wriggle, oh my!
/Hate/ becomes /8/ or the food that we /ate/
/Howl/ becomes /owl/, a bird that sleeps in till late
/How/ becomes /ow!/ when we cry out in pain
/High/ becomes /I/ to speak of ourselves and our fame

Listen and repeat the third verse.

Now armed with this new-found essential skill
Let’s learn the right sounds through this new type of drill
The idea is the poem will help us deduce
For the words that we speak, which /H/ to produce…

Finally, we learn that the /h/ is pronounced in “heaven”, “head”, “hall”, “hi”, “heart”, “heat”, “home” and “horrid”, but it is silent in the words “honesty”, “hour” and “honor”.

Listen and repeat the fourth verse.

/H/ makes me crazy, /how/ about you?
/H/ is pronounced for /high/ and for /heaven/ too
/H/ is pronounced for the /hair/ on our /heads/
/H/ is voiced for the /hall/ that leads to our beds
/H/ is pronounced in /hi!/ to people we greet
/H/ is voiced for our /hearts/ and our /homes/ that we /heat/
/H/ is pronounced for the /horrid/ things that we dread
- But /H/ is silent for /honesty/, the right path to tread
/H/ is silent in /hour/ and sounds like “our” possession
/H/ is silent for /honor/ and that’s the end of this lesson!

Now say the whole poem together with me. You will find the script on our website.

That’s the end of our podcast. Go to our website to get the script of this episode. To train even more try our other series “QualityTime-ESL” for oral grammar practice & “5 Minute TOPs” to have fun with quotes and song lyrics. If you have ideas about new episodes, please write to us at our website. Bye for now, and don’t forget to keep smiling.

Best,

Marianne

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