How to use Minimal Pairs

First of all, check out Ted Power’s amazing Minimal Pairs- the list is fantastically long and not covered in adverts or unnecessary explanations.

Secondly, find tongue twisters that use the sounds you wish to practice

Thirdly, use song lyrics of a poem with the sound in

Finally, concentrate on that sound for a whole day. Make a difference!

For example, if I want to practice the ‘n’ sound, I might try ‘n’ vs ‘ng’ and think about tongue position.









































Then I might try

“I need not your needles,
They’re needless to me,
For the needing of needles
Is needless, you see.
But did my neat trousers
But need to be kneed,
I then should have need
Of your needles indeed.”

Then I’d use ‘This Land is your Land’ as those final ‘nd’ sounds are great practice for my tongue!

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.


Ted Power

Tongue Twisters

Song Lyrics for this song


This technique works for all minimal pairs – give it a try and let me know how you get on!


Mindfulness – inspiration – poem


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Smooth onset of vowel sounds

If you’re struggling with using a forward voice (does your voice feel stuck in your throat? Do you feel like you swallow your words?) then try this quick tip to help practice that lovely, free, smooth open vowel sound…

First, try drilling the ‘H’ sound:

H     H     H     H

HH     HH    HH     H

HHH     HHH     HHH     H

HHHH     HHHH     HHHH     H

…use loads of breath to help make the sound forward and avoid tension in your throat.


Next, add a simple /ah/ sound. Just like at the dentist, the sound in car / fast / mark / castle is a free and open sound….

H/ah/     H/ah/     H/ah/    H/ah/

Does the /ah/ sound feel free and open? Is it following the ‘h’ out of your mouth in an easy fashion? Good!

Try a few other vowel sounds, not too many, just get used to this exercise before you move on…

H/oh/      H/ooooh/   H/ey/   H/aw/

Good luck and let me know how you get on!


Check out my new look GoDaddy website too – it’s amazing.


Sharing stuff on the internet is quite peculiar, isn’t it. I still haven’t got used to the idea that the things I publish might actually be enjoyed by some people. I often feel like this is shouting into a vacuum, then I realise I have a hundred subscribers on YouTube – not Taylor Swift style numbers admittedly – but one hundred people are actually interested in my videos. I don’t make them as often as I would like to, balancing work, running, dog training, house work, school runs, naughty boy school visits, cooking, cleaning, parish council, village hall committee, governors, parent association, and keeping up with The Apprentice…. but when I do them I try to make them useful. Have a look at my channel and see. You’ll notice massive gaps and some questionable hairdos (I often film post-run post-shower so have wet hair and a beetroot face) but luckily no one tunes in because of my appearance. Unless they’re a bit peculiar.

I’d love to do more videos / podcasts on issues that people struggle with, so do let me know if you need a specific topic covered.


I started learning Arabic recently – I’ve volunteered to be a tutor for Paper Airplanes and would like to try and study a little Arabic. It’s hard, not because the language is strange, but because the podcast I’m using travels at a million miles per hour! As a result, I’m going to slow down the delivery in my podcast. I often listen while washing up or driving, when it isn’t practical to pause the podcast, which I’m sure is true about many others who listen to mine. So, from now on, I’ll speak more slowly and repeat more often. It’ll feel odd and slightly patronising I’m sure, but with time I’ll get used to it and hopefully people who listen will only benefit.

In the meantime, check out my previous podcasts. Some of them are pretty good!

Sore throat, tired, hoarse, wintery voice? Here’s how to fix it.

  • Get some sleep. Now. Go to bed earlier than you intended. Put that smartphone down, and that tablet, and that laptop. Pick up a BOOK (how about this one?) and read until you fall asleep. Less bluescreen = less stress on the brain = better sleep = better health.
  • Wake up and drink oodles of water. Keep a bottle with you all day and keep refilling it. Hydrate that body and throat and keep it hydrated. There are more stringent rules for healthy tap water than bottled water, so just use the tap to save pennies!
  • Spend five minutes breathing deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do it in the shower, on the way to the train, in the car, anywhere. No one will know you’re doing it and your lungs will thank you.
  • Eat honey on toast, if it rocks your boat. Honey is so great for the throat. Local honey is best, so do your best to find your local honey seller.
  • If you have five minutes where no one can hear you, hum a tune or two, then lalalala a few times to get your voice practised. Practice some consonant sounds and tongue twisters. A stronger voice is less likely to suffer.
  • Speak softly and carefully when you can, save your big voice for necessary times, like that AMAZING presentation you’re doing later on, or that Christmas Do when everyone will be chatting and you’ll need to be loud to be heard.
  • Buy some Vocalzones. They’re the best for a healthy voice. Honestly.
  • Wash your hands as often as humanly possible. Colds and lurgy spread more quickly through poor hygiene, so avoid it by washing your hands when you can.
  • If your voice hurts, rest it.
  • Rest it some more.
  • And some more.
  • Go back to point one and start again J