Tag Archives: diphthongs

Teaching Diphthongs

It’s never easy to teach phonetics and even though I love teaching this skill, I don’t think my students share my feelings on this subject. Anyway, in case you find it interesting or useful this is how I’m planning  to teach diphthongs.

diphthong is a sound made up of two vowels, or in other words, a vowel sound that starts near the articulatory position for one vowel and moves toward the position for another. In RP (the approved pronunciation of British English), there are eight diphthongs.

An easy way for them to remember the diphthongs is by drawing a face such as this one and then eliciting the diphthongs in the head.

You’ll get seven out of the eight diphthongs as you can see from the picture. To get the last sound you can always ask students:” Which Diphthong is missing ?” and set this task as homework.

face |eɪ| |  boy /ɔɪ/  ear / ɪə/ eye /aɪ/ nose /əʊ/  mouth /aʊ/  hair  /eə /

What diphthong is missing ?  /ʊə/ as in tourist | ˈtʊərɪst |

Click here if you want to listen to the pronunciation of these diphthongs.


♥ Ask students to work in pairs and give each pair a different diphthong. Tell students they have two minutes to write down words containing this diphthong. Encourage students to write different parts of speech: nouns,adjectives, verbs…etc. Divide the board into 8 columns, label each of them with a different  diphthong and list students’ words  correcting  any mistakes.

Tell students, still working in pairs,  to choose any  column from the ones on the board. Give students 3 minutes to write a sentence using as many words in their chosen column as possible. Ask students to read their sentences and tick off the ones they have used. The winner will be the pair who has used more words from their column.

Get ready for some funny sentences! 🙂