This entry, however, is about the vowels in bad and bed, had or head and similar words.The distinction between /e/ and /æ/ is notoriously difficult for German students of English to produce although it's rather easy to discriminate.
I carried out a tiny experiment with 38 German students of English, who attended my phonetics classes in 2010, an experiment, in which I made them listen to eight minimal pair sentences of the type:
I hope you will land/lend me a fish.
They heard one member of such a pair of sentences only, but saw both on a piece of paper. They were supposed to tick the one they believed to have heard.
Here are the sentences (the colour green marks the one they heard):
- You can't say dad/dead on a gravestone
- Charles confesses: I love Alan/Ellen
- Will the man/men come?
- This pan/pen leaks
- They bought a lot of jams/gems from the specialty shop
- He was sanding/sending some furniture when I called
- I like Barry's/berries best
- I hope you will land/lend me a fish
|student A||OO||student B|
|(a)Will the men come?||OO||I haven't invited them|
|(b)Will the man come?||OO||He's on his way here|
PS: The sentences were taken from H. Eckert & W. Barry (2005) and J.D. Bowen (1975). I'm always on the lookout for more minimal pair sentences. I'd be most grateful if you would post some more here.