We make the sound in "hot" (/a/) with our mouth open the widest. Pretend you are going to the doctor and saying "ahhhhhhhh".
See how open your
mouth is and how
far back your tongue is.
These two video clips also show the /a/ sound. Clicking on the links below will download the video clips and launch a separate viewer so you can watch them (MPEG file format).
The sound in "hat" is made with your mouth open not as wide and the sound is not as far back in your throat. Pretend someone is choking you. The sound you will make is this "hat" vowel.
Now let's listen to some sounds!