Takeover Thursday: Using Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” to Practice Your Pronunciation

Posted on Jul 16 2015 - 11:00am by PopESL

It’s our first Takeover Thursday and we’re excited to welcome Nikki from English Exams With Nikki!

Take it away, Nikki!!


Many English speakers have trouble (problems) with the B and the V sound in English. Many languages, like Spanish, the B and the V sound is the same sound. In English, however, it is very different! Are you pronouncing these letters correctly?

The V sound 

Show your teeth! This sound is made by placing your upper teeth on top of your bottom lip. When you make the V sound, your lips should vibrate and it may tickle you a little bit!

Try saying the following words in front of a mirror: vest, vote, very.

The B sound 

No teeth! This sound is made by pressing your lips together and then letting air out. When you make the B sound, a little bit of air should come out of your mouth after you press your lips together and release them.

Try saying the following words in front of a mirror: best, boat, berry.

Pronunciation course.002

After looking in a mirror, you should be able to see that there is a huge difference between the V and B sounds. Now, in order to get your mouth used to these movements, I recommend practicing what we call a minimal pair. A minimal pair is a pair of words that vary by only a single sound. By practicing minimal pairs, you can train your mouth muscles and your brain to more naturally create sounds in English.

Give the following a try!




If you’re unsure of how to pronounce certain words in English, visit my Instagram channel, where I upload a word every day so you can practice!


The idea is to say each pair slowly until you start to get the hang of it. Then, once you understand the movements of the lips, you can start practicing more advanced exercises like the following paragraph:

Last summer I went to Vietnam by boat. It was a very bumpy ride because the winds were very strong and the boat would rock back and forth. We arrived in Vietnam and decided to buy blue bottles for the vodka. On the way to by the blue bottles, Vik decided he wanted a very berry smoothie. I, however, wanted a vegan brownie. Luckily, we found both the very berry smoothie and the vegan brownie at the Vanilla Vibes cafe located right by the beach. After eating, we went to buy the blue bottles for the vodka. We found the bottles and then ventured off back to the boat. Now we’re traveling to Venice Beach to bike on the boardwalk!

Now that you understand the difference, it’s time to get grooving! (dancing)

Check out the following songs for V and B practice!

Relaxing, slower music:

Good Vibes- Rebolution

Broken Vow- Josh Groban

Energetic, dancing music:

Bang Bang- Jessie J

I’m on Vacation- Rhett & Link

Mastering these two sounds will help you sound like a native and if you have to take an English exam such as the TOEFL® Test, you will get a higher score. Good luck and remember, the more you practice, the better you become!

Nikki is the founder of English Exams with Nikki, a TOEFL® Test preparation company, which focuses on online test preparation for Spanish speakers. She was born and raised in the United States but currently lives in Ecuador, South America. You can contact her at nikki@englishexamswithnikki.org

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