Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel. In this video we’ll compare two vowel sounds: /oʊ/ and /ɔ/ as in the words “low” and “law.” In our previous videos we already learned how to make them. Remember the videos for the /oʊ/ sound, as in “go” and the /ɔ/ sound, as in “on”? This time we’ll focus on the differences between these two sounds. It’s relatively easy to distinguish between the /oʊ/ and the /ɔ/. However, when these sounds are pronounced, they are frequently confused and distorted. In this video we’ll help you fix this by practicing the /oʊ/ and the /ɔ/ sounds by contrasting them in word pairs. Before we continue, let’s check how well you can differentiate between the /oʊ/ and the /ɔ/. You’ll see a pair of words on the screen and hear only one of them pronounced. For example, “l*w.” Can you guess what word you heard? Let’s try a few more word pairs. Don’t worry if you couldn’t recognize some of the words. Keep watching for instructions and exercises to help you improve. Here are the 2 key distinctions between the /oʊ/ and the /ɔ/: First, look at the lips: For the /oʊ/ sound, the lips are rounded in a circle and very tense. For the /ɔ/ sound, the lips are rounded, relaxed and the mouth is open very wide. Second. Pay attention to the tongue: For the /oʊ/ sound, the tongue is pulled back in your mouth and tensed. For the /ɔ/ sound, the tongue is pulled back, relaxed and is very low in your mouth. Let’s pronounce these sounds one after the other: /oʊ/ – /ɔ/ /oʊ/ – /ɔ/ /oʊ/ – /ɔ/ Next you’ll need to actually pronounce some words aloud. You didn’t think you could get away with just listening, did you? The best way to practice the /oʊ/ and /ɔ/ is to pronounce them in word pairs. So, let’s do this. You’ll see a word on the screen and hear its pronunciation. After that you’ll have a few seconds to pronounce the word. [signal prompt to start speaking] Repeat each word after the speaker, the first word will have the tense /oʊ/ vowel sound, and the second will have the relaxed /ɔ/ vowel sound. Let’s begin! You’re done! Congratulations! To check how much you’ve improved, you can go back and do the word pairs test again. Click this link to go back and compare the results. By the way, did you know that in American English the letter ‘o’ can represent at least six different sounds? Most often, it sounds like /ɑ/, as in the words “not” or “box.”.. And as /oʊ/, as in the word “no” or “note,” also like /ʌ/ , as in the word “mother” or “love.” Sometimes, the letter ‘o’ can represent the /ɔ/ vowel, as in the words “lost” or “on.” It’s generally an exception, but this letter could also be the /u/ vowel, as in “who” or “shoe,” and even the /ʊ/ vowel as in “wolf” or “woman.” Crazy, right? 🙂 Thanks for watching! Hope you find it useful! Stay tuned on our Sounds American channel!