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For each sound, I’ve included audio examples and practice phrases. Unless otherwise indicated, practice phrases are excerpted from Lexical Sets for Actors by Eric Armstrong under a creative commons license.


Words like KIT         [ i ]

00:00 / 00:35

Words that sound like KIT will instead target towards a FLEECE vowel, since there is no KIT equivalent in Mandarin.

PRACTICE WORDS: kit, trip, city, middle, click, limit, different

Words like DRESS          [ a ]

00:00 / 00:35

The target vowel for this set is an unrounded, front open vowel, one of the vowels found in Mandarin.

PRACTICE WORDS: dress, kept, step, head, stretch, friend

Words like NURSE

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The r-coloring in NURSE words is distinct, as it is a sound commonly found in the Beijing dialect of Mandarin

PRACTICE WORDS: nurse, earth, learn, work, early, rehearsal

Words like STRUT               [ ɑ ] 

00:00 / 00:25

The target for this set is an unrounded, open back vowel. 

PRACTICE WORDS: strut, love, young, mother, tough, come

Words like GOOSE            [ ʊ ]

00:00 / 00:16

The target here is a near back, near close vowel. Round the lips slightly around this vowel - you can even protrude the lower lip as well.

PRACTICE WORDS: loop, mood, who, two, youth, lose

Words like FACE         [ ɛ ]

00:00 / 00:23

The target vowel in the FACE set is similar to the DRESS vowel, a front, open-mid, unrounded bowel

PRACTICE WORDS: face, train, cake, safe, vague, station

Words like GOAT         [ o ]

00:00 / 00:18

The target for this sound is a single vowel, a rounded, close-mid back vowel.

PRACTICE WORDS: boat, home, grow, though, own, tote



Voiced /th/ sounds become like a /d/, articulated by the tip or blade of the tongue making contact behind front teeth.

00:00 / 00:13

Unvoiced TH sounds in initial positions of a word 

When an unvoiced TH sound is followed by an /r/ sometimes an [ s ] can be inserted instead of an unvoiced dental fricative. 

00:00 / 00:08

/V/ in the initial position of a word

The realization of the /v/ sound is closer to a labiodental approximant [ ʋ ], the lower lip will not quite make contact with the top teeth. 

00:00 / 00:08

L in medial and final positions

In medial and final positions when followed by a vowel, [l] can take on the properties of a vowel, generally as [ə] when unstressed or a form of [ʊ] when stressed.

00:00 / 00:25

Devoicing of final consonants

VOICED PLOSIVES [b] [d] [g] → [p] [t] [k].


For words that end in a voiced plosive, voicing drops out in the articulation, thus [b] [d] [g] become [p] [t] [k] in syllable endings, respectively. This applies when preceded by either a vowel or consonant.

  • kids [kits]

  • bags [baks]

  • bands [bants]

  • lob [lɑp]


When adding an -s to the voiced plosive, the loss of the voices continues to the [s] instead of [z]. Using the above words:

  • lobs [lɑps]

  • kids [kits]

  • bags [baks]

  • bands [bants]

PLOSIVES sometimes add [ə]. There are regular instances when the articulated plosive is followed by an additional vowel [ə].

  • and maybe [ˈandə ˈmɛbi]

  • ask him [ˈaskə him]


FRICATIVES [v] [z] → [f] [s]. Voicing stops and [v] and [z] become [f] and [s], respectively.

  • give [gif]

  • has [has]


FRICATIVE [θ] → [s]. Voice and voiceless labio-dental fricatives [θ] [ð] both become [s] in

final positions.

  • bath [bas]

  • teethe [tis]

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