Lipreading Practice

Vowels - Introduction


If you have already used the video clips for practising consonant sounds, I hope you found them useful and interesting.

Now we are going to look at the vowel sounds and what shapes and movement we can see on the lips as they are formed.

Every word in our language has a vowel in it. Here are some examples; I at so me cup

Often we think of the vowels as the sounds A E I O U, a, e i o u, but there are many more.

Other vowels sounds are formed either using a combination of A E I O U or a combination of one or more of these letters together with other letters. Here is an example O & W can be OW as in how or OA as in tow.


There are many different spellings for some of the vowel sounds.

Remember that in lipreading spelling is not important. It is how the sound, looks and moves on the lips that is important.

The vowels may be put into different groups according to the shape of the mouth.

Ay; ah; ie; air; e; a; u; & ire; all have a very big mouth shape.

ee; ear; & i; have a wide narrow mouth shape.

Oy; aw; oo as in boot; & oo as in cook all have a rounded mouth shape and look a bit like you are whistling.

Oa; ow rounded mouth then closing in.

Then there is the a sound. An example of this sound is "I went for a walk,"

The last two vowel sounds are o as in top and er as in firm or defer. The er sound is long and stressed.

Some vowel sounds are easily recognised while others are not.

We must LOOK, LISTEN, THINK and practise to help us to recognise them in every day speech.

Don't forget to look for other clues that might help us. Sometimes there are face, throat and neck movements that may help us to recognise what is being said.

Try to remember all the lipreading tips that we went over when practising the consonant sounds.

  • Tell the speaker that you lipread before you start the conversation.
  • Try to find the quietest place possible for your conversation.
  • Ask the speaker to stand or sit facing the light so that you can see their face easily.
  • Try to sit or stand on the same level and between three and six feet from the speaker.
  • Remember the context is important so try to find out the subject of the conversation as soon as possible.
  • Don't feel embarrassed to ask for things to be repeated or asking for something to be said in a different way.
  • Watch the speaker's whole face, not just the lips. Facial expressions and gestures will tell you a lot about what is being said.
  • Keep a pen and paper handy, you may need something written down.
  • Stop the speaker as soon as you miss something. You may not be able to catch up again. Although sometimes something that you hear at the end of the sentence can make sense of everything that has gone before. You decide what works best for you.
  • Remember to use closed questions to confirm that you have heard correctly.
  • Give the speaker a copy of the action for Hearing Loss Tips to help you lipread leaflet.

Cards may be obtained from Action for Hearing Loss with instructions like this on them. They can be slipped to the person who is talking so that they know that you are hard of hearing AND what they can do to help!

If possible try to go to a lipreading class or support group. The support and encouragement of others is so important and may help to stop feelings of isolation. We can share ideas and equipment that we have found to be useful and we benefit from the expertise of the teacher.

Finally keep in mind that it is good to laugh and see the funny side of things. If we relax we may be able to lipread better and therefore make more sense of what we are hearing. We need to use our lipreading skills to help us hear more effectively.

Don't forget when you are using the video clips that you can pause the video at any time and rewind as many times as you want, to help you lipread it accurately. You can also turn the volume down or and the subtitles off to practise lipreading. When you want to check what you have lipread, turn the volume up and the subtitles on.

Remember only you can decide what is useful to you. I hope you find these sessions useful and interesting.

Video Lessons in the Vowels section

The excercises below may be used in any order but are listed in the suggested order of viewing the sessions.