Hey there, this is Teacher Ola podcast episode 29: Pronunciation Tip: Seen vs. Sin. Long and short vowel sounds.

My name’s Ola and I am an online English teacher.

This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation,  see how to have a tense-free conversation with other English-speaking human beings! Go to my website for full transcripts and all worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello TOPeople, I’m really glad you’ve managed to find some time for your English. I’m also very excited that you chose  this podcast for your today’s practice. Thank you so much.  You won’t regret, it’s a great time investment in your pronunciation.

Today I’m going to teach you how to pronounce the short and long vowels. Today we’ll focus on a short /ɪ/ sound and a long /iː/ sound. You’ll learn what’s the difference, why is it important to pronounce it differently and of course you’ll get some practice. By practice, I always mean speaking. Speaking out loud. I’ll ask you later to repeat sentences after me. At the very end, you’ll also hear and then repeat funny rhymes and proverbs with /ɪ/  sound and  /iː/ sound.

Before we jump to long and short vowel sounds, a disclaimer.

I don’t really focus on British pronunciation when I speak English. I speak a peculiar kind of my own mixture of both. It depends on you what do you want, what do you choose, what sounds better for you. I love British pronunciation but listening to many podcasts in American English and applying shadowing changed my pronunciation patterns.

I encourage you to be flexible, open and put your mind to the communication. You want to be able to talk to people fearlessly, without that barrier. Communication first. Bearing all this in mind do not forget that correct pronunciation is crucial. The accent is not crucial but the correct, proper pronunciation is.  Pronunciation matters.

All you’ll learn today with me refers to Received Pronunciation. RP, Received Pronunciation is also called BBC English, Southern British Pronunciation. It’s the standard accent of English and it’s spoken in the south of England. Stay with me even if you hate British pronunciation and prefer the American one. This rule, we’re going to learn today applies also to GA, that is General American to some extent, of course. In GA we also have long and short vowels.

Ok, are you ready? Lett’s finally jump into the core of this lesson.

In English, vowels may be short or long. While learning a new word check the dictionary, look at the phonetic symbols. If a symbol is followed by a colon (:) you’re dealing with a long vowel. The colon is the mark ( : ) used to introduce a list, a summary, an explanation or before reporting what somebody has said. It’s made of two dots one above the other. So if you open your favourite online dictionary and type the word ‘be’ you’ll see the colon for sure.

To produce the word with a long vowel sound you need to lengthen the sound, it has to be twice as long as short sounds. In the title of this episode, I contrasted two words with two  sounds. /iː/ as in ‘seen’ and /ɪ/ sound as in ‘sin’. ‘Seen’ and ‘sin’. Repeat after me:



I’m sure this example tells a lot. I mean, now you know why it’s so important to pronounce correctly. It’s not a matter of speaking with British, American, Australian, Canadian accent. It’s about being understood. If you mispronounce words you might be misunderstood. What’s more, being aware of this difference makes it easier for you to understand foreigners better.

Let’s have a look at some other examples of such pairs. Please repeat after me:

feet fit

cheap chip

leap lip

seat sit

heat hit

sleep slip

The problem for us, Polish native speakers is that we don’t have long sounds. This is why we need to learn them. Our brains don’t like changes, that’s natural. What we have to do is we need to train our apparatus: the tongue, lips to perform something slightly different.

Ok, time for practice. Now you’ll hear words with long /iː/ sound followed by an example sentence. The same will happen later with the short /ɪ/ sound. Your task is to listen carefully, try to memorize it, retain it in your brain and produce it on your own. Last but not least, you’ll listen and repeat rhymes.  Let’s start:




Please complete these documents.




I believe Neil’s likely to succeed.



Amelia has strong regional accent.



Phoebe has a peaceful life.




Three can keep a secret if the two of them are dead.




A media campaign for the machine will be deleted.





It’s Edith’s routine to read a magazine in a limousine.



New brooms sweep clean.





Three grey-green greedy geese.

Now, listen to a rhyme and repeat it. It’s a good idea to learn it by heart. Here it goes:

Taffy was a Welshman,

Taffy was a thief.

Taffy went to my house

And stole a piece of beef.

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief.

Taffy went to my house and stole a piece of beef.

Ok, well done, great job on repeating all the words and sentences. Let’s move on to a short sound /ɪ/.





It isn’t a city of Michigan.





Kevin is developing his computer skills.





Tim likes his lettuce with oil and vinegar.



A pessimist is never disappointed.





It is sweet to drink but bitter to pay for.




In a moment of blessed calm, I reach for mixed biscuits.




Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?




We need intelligent women in politics.




Kevin has bought a pretty cottage in the mountains.

Lovely. Now listen and repeat one funny limerick:

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,

Kitty Fisher found it;

Not a penny was there in it,

Only ribbon round it.

Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it;

Not a penny was there in it, only ribbon round it.

Great! Good job on repeating all the words and sentences, and even limericks. Well done!

Thank you for tuning in, if you think you could share this with your friend who needs to improve his or her pronunciation, please share it.

Now, go to teacherola.com/29 and check out the transcript. See if you got all the sentences correct. Then download the worksheet, and practice some translations. It’s all free. When you’re there please leave me a comment. Let me know if you liked this episode. Next time we’ll be learning some vocabulary, common collocations for talking about your future plans. Vocabulary booster. Please be here next Wednesday. Have a lovely week, happy learning, bye bye!