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August 13, 2007

Tips and Tricks- Learning the Phonetic Alphabet

Dear Readers,

Chances are that your students use a phonetic alphabet to learn English. So when your students ask you questions about it, are you able to answer? Do you dismiss it as something unimportant? Have you made learning the phonetic alphabet a low priority? If so, then...

... I hope to change your mind.

While there are a number of different phonetic alphabets, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is perhaps the most common. The symbols of the IPA are 107 letters for consonants and vowels, 31 diacritics which further specify those sounds, and 19 suprasegmentals, which indicate such qualities as length, tone, stress, and intonation.

To download an IPA chart, go to: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/IPA/fullchart.html.

To learn the IPA, try this:

1. Take a dictionary that includes phonetic transcriptions, and check through its phonetic alphabet, some of whose symbols may be different from those in the IPA chart. Look at the words and make sure you can understand the transcriptions.

2. Now choose ten words from a book. Try transcribing them into phonetic script.

3. Compare your transcription with that of the transcription in your dictionary.

4. Do this every day or every couple of days until you no longer need help from your IPA chart.

Once you are able to do this, you'll be able to implement this into your classes.

Hope that helps!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*For more ESL Tips & Tricks from ESL-Lesson-Plan, please click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students of all ages and levels. She worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at August 13, 2007 03:11 AM

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Thanks for that, Carol!

I'm setting myself a small test and plan to do well- if not to get instant feedback as to where I need to improve.


Posted by: Lisa Gorringe at August 28, 2007 06:29 PM

Dear Carol : Thanks alot for your kind information , it is really useful . I hope if we could contact more through e-mail . I am an english language teacher , I work in Iraq.

Anyway, I hope to hear good news about you.Thank you.


Posted by: mohammedaladhamy at August 29, 2007 04:49 AM

Phonetic Alphabet systems are beloved of Chinese English Language Teachers in China. And their students speak English horribly!

The problem is that most Chinese English teachers have not learned how to say the sounds the symbol represent correctly. They in turn pass on mispronounciations to their students.

And as their are at least four different Phonetic Alphabets for English being used in China, confusion arises between each of them.

There is no accepted standard.

I tell students to ignore those Symbols. Guess what? Once they do, their spoken English improves dramatically.

Let the Linguists play with these things. For students from non-european language backgrounds, they are useless, if not harmful.

Posted by: The China Tattler at September 13, 2007 08:05 AM

Hi Carol & Friends, If you are interested I have a Software application for creating the Phonetic Symbols to insert into Documents, e.g. Lesson Plans. I wrote this myself as I couldn't find any quick way to do it. It also will correctly format PinYin as well.
It is completely free.
Some members of the IPA have and are using it.
its available at www.language-power.cn/download/Phonetics.zip

Posted by: Language Power at August 23, 2008 12:05 PM

Thanks this is really cool writing

Posted by: Aurelio Giles at May 22, 2010 04:37 PM

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