Words to practice:
Cat, bat, mat, bank, bask, last, backpack, handbag, abstract.
[kæt], [bæt], [mæt], [bæŋk], [bæsk], [læst], [ˈbækˌpæk], [ˈhændˌbæg], [æbˈstrækt]
Relax and imitate the coach. Let your body and posture adjust so that you can make the sounds and pronounce the words comfortably.
Technical description: [æ] is a near-open front unrounded vowel
Advanced: Make a slight smile with your lips and cheecks, relax the back of your tongue and let it settle into the “”near open”” or “”near-low”” position that will form a healthy, understandable [æ] sound. Your tongue will be higher than [ɑ] and lower than [i]. Allow the mid-section of your tongue to raise slightly while vibrating your vocal cords.
Note: Make sure to be able to differentiate between the words “”bet”” and “”bat,”” “”hat”” and “”hot.”” To feel your tongue drop to the near-low position, contrast with a “tongue higher” vowel like [i] from heat. Repeat |: [i] [æ] 😐 and feel the difference. To feel your tongue move up to the near-low position, contrast with a “”tongue lower”” vowel like [ɑ] from father. Repeat |: [ɑ] [æ] :|.
Warning: For beginners, it is best to just imitate and relax. While raising conscious awareness of lip, tongue, and larynx function, if you are not careful, you can experience fatigue or cramps. Hydrate properly, take breaks when tired, and remember to enjoy yourself! “