Back to School Basics

Hello, to all my readers. I’m very excited to share something with you that I’ve been working on lately. I will have some more lesson plans on my website VERY soon and I would like to give you a little sneak peak. There are ten full lessons complete with text, exercises, audio and a mini-test for $10.

Sometimes when we’re learning English we get so caught up in advanced details, we forget about the basics. That’s why my lesson plans are all about. It dives into basic minimal pairs and the differences between the sounds. Improving your pronunciation is one of the basic skills every English learner can continually work on.


Improving Your Pronunciation

Even if you have perfect grammar and an excellent reservoir of words, people will still find it hard to understand you if you have difficulties with pronunciation. For some, pronunciation can be the hardest part of learning English.

After all, the words “ate” and “eight” sound the same but mean different things. But  “canoe” and “toe”, despite having the same “oe” ending have completely different sounds. English can be so confusing! So how can you improve your pronunciation?

One of the best ways to improve your pronunciation is to study minimal pairs. This is what we’ll focus on in these lesson plans. Feel free to listen along to the audio as you go through the lesson plan. Practice reading the words – notice how your mouth moves, where your tongue sits and how wide your open your mouth.


Ready? Let’s get started!

Lesson One

Sit – Seat

Practice saying sit and seat a few times.

When you say SEAT, your mouth is almost closed, and it looks like you’re smiling.
When you say SIT, your mouth is a little more open.

You may notice that sit /ɪ/ is a shorter sound than seat /i:/. We’re going to look at more examples in a few minutes so you can really see the difference between the two sounds, and how your mouth moves. Just remember that when we use say the word seat /i:/, we spread our mouth – almost like a smile! This is why we always say “cheese” (not “chiz”) when we’re taking a picture!

Now let’s just focus on words that sound like SIT and use the /ɪ/ sound. Remember to focus on how your mouth moves, and where your tongue sits. Your mouth should feel like it’s making the same shape every time you make that sound. Remember, this is a short sound.

  • did
  • fit
  • lick
  • pick
  • dip
  • sin
  • still
  • kid
  • fist
  • hip
  • big

Now let’s just focus on words that sound like SEAT and use the /i:/ sound. Remember, this is a longer sounding word. Again, your mouth should make the same shape every time you make that sound. Focus on how your mouth moves, and where your tongue sits.

  • peel
  • teal
  • heal
  • grease
  • sleek
  • tease
  • peace
  • seem
  • greed
  • heed

Now, here’s a tricky exercise. Let’s try pronouncing the two different sounds when they’re side by side.

  • pill / peel
  • skid / skied
  • chick / cheek
  • bid / bead
  • sin / seen
  • risen / reason
  • mill / meal
  • lip / leap
  • ill / eel
  • grin / green

Good work! Now let’s try to use some of these words in sentences. I’ll read the sentence slowly, and then again at a normal speed. Try to repeat the sentences. Let’s focus on the sound that SIT makes first.

  1. I couldn’t hit the ball because my mitt kept slipping.
  2. I’ve got an itch to pick the best yarn to knit with.
  3. I was quite ill last weekend – I think I got sick, so I took a pill.
  4. His chips were good with dip.

Now let’s focus on the sound SEAT makes.

  1. I’ll steal his peach while he’s on the beach.
  2. Don’t keep debt long – you’ll get in too deep and you won’t feel at peace.
  3. He seemed at peace when he skied.
  4. His jeep was sleek and could drive through the creek.Click on the link below and try the quiz. You do need to listen to the audio in order to answer the question. Your quiz is available at:

The quiz passcode is EE1.

Hopefully you found Lesson One of my Back to School Basics lesson plan helpful! The remaining nine lessons (including audio) will be on my website shortly. I’m very excited to show you these new lesson plans! I really hope you benefit from them.

Thanks for reading!


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