Pronunciation Hack – Every Word is a Color

Can pronunciation be this simple? Yes it can.

If you have signed up for free gifts on the Thompson Language Center site you are familiar with the English Phonetic Alphabet (EPA) Vowel Chart. It’s the answer to confident speaking.

We’ll quickly look at the back-story then the solution. It was 1476 when William Caxton ruined English by writing it down without enough letters. There are 40+ sounds in English and only 26 letters in the ABC alphabet. He made a mess. English spelling has never made sense. Until now there hasn’t been an easy way to pronounce words from reading them.

Colors provide a bridge to speaking from written English. The 16 vowel sounds (that’s right, vowel sounds not vowel letters) are in the names of 16 ordinary colors. Students learn the color of words as they learn the spelling and meaning and the color holds the pronunciation for every word regardless of crazy English spelling. Imagine the correct pronunciation for every word, for all of time with no exception and no teacher.

After learning the colors with the vowel sounds they showcase I suggest you figure out the color of your name. It’s fun! JUdy is Blue. The stressed syllable determines the color of multi-syllable words. With this simple system the pronunciation of every word in English is one of the colors in the chart. Listen to the vowel sounds.

TEAcher is Green

ENGlish is Pink

pronunciAtion is Gray

You try it.

I’m often asked two questions:

1) “When is it appropriate to start teaching Pronunciation?”

A: Today.

2) “How do I teach Pronunciation to absolute beginners?”

A: Download the chart below.

Everything is a color and the letters of the alphabet are things. The letters of the alphabet are colors. Start pronunciation the very first day of school.

There’s one little caveat (warning or condition). This chart is Canadian and Z /zed/ is Red in Canada. In the United States Z /zEy/ is Green. If you’d like the American version of this chart email me and I’ll be happy to send it to you.


Yours in ESL,

Judy Thompson


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