Answers to: Teaching our ears to listen

If you missed our listening quiz stop reading right now and click here to listen and see how you do. If you are done scroll down for the answers.


Before I give the answers I must mention we learned there are 44 sounds in the english language (approximately) but over 1,000 sounds that can be made by the mouth. Our mouth is used to doing sounds a certain way so other sounds our ears and mouths don’t easily hear and do. The trick in learning another langauge is to distinguish those sounds. Our instructor says,  “contrast is the mother of clarity.”


A note on terms: unasperated (unpuffed) means there is no rush of air after the consonant. In English we puff t, and b quite often (put a paper over your lip when you make that sound and see it puff). In many languages a puffed sound means something different then an unpuffed one. Try and train your mouth to say things unpuffed…it is hard to do!


16. Different

first word had an unasperated (un-puffed) t at the beginning second word had a d

17. Different

first word had a voiced k 3rd sound in and the second had a voiced g 3rd sound in.

18. Different

first word had an unasperated (unpuffed) c 3rd sound in and hte second had a j 3rd sound in.

19. Different

first had an unasperated (unpuffed) k for the first sound and the second had a g for the first sound.

20. Different

the first sound in the first word was an unasperated (unpuffed) t and the second words first sound was a d.

As a second language learner our tendency is to try and force sounds we hear into our English 44 sounds. For example with number 20 we hear an unasperated t and think…that sounds like a “d” I’ll just say “d”. This results in us mispronouncing words, or having thick accents. If we can learn to distinguish the sounds and then “force our mouths into submission” we are able to communicate more clearly.


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