Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ling Websites: Phonetics and IPA

This week, my Structures class will be moving into phonetics and learning the International Phonetics Alphabet (IPA). Every semester, I tend to share the same websites, so I'm putting them all into one post for my students--and others--to peruse.

1. Ladefoged's IPA Chart

Screenshot of Ladefoged's IPA Chart

UCLA offers a website that has an interactive IPA chart; you can click on sections of the chart to bring them into focus and then click on individual sounds to hear recordings. This is especially helpful for learning sounds not found in English.

2. University of Iowa's 'The Sounds of Spoken Language'

Screenshot of the University of Iowa's articulatory phonetics website

The University of Iowa offers an interactive phonetics experience, in which you can choose whether you want to focus on the sounds of English, German, or Spanish. Once you've selected a language, it shows you animated sagittal sections to demonstrate what is physiologically happening when you make a selected sound. This website is incredibly helpful for anyone trying to learn and remember all the columns/rows of both the consonantal and vocalic IPA charts.

3. Cambridge's Phonetics Focus

Screenshot of Cambridge's phonetics focus website

Cambridge English Online offers a website full of phonetics fun--it has games to help you learn the IPA and the connection between phones and phonemes. It also has games to help you learn to hear the differences between the sounds of English. The only drawback for American students is that it uses British pronunciation; some of the vowels for example words are pronounced differently from what most Americans would use. However, the games are fun, and it is a good website to explore.

4. English Phonetic Transcription

Screenshot of the English Phonetic Transcription website

I don't normally recommend sites like these, but students find them all on their own... You can type any English text into the white box, and this website will turn it into IPA for you (or upside down if you want to see your text from a different angle). Are the IPA transcriptions always accurate? No. Will using it help you learn the concepts behind the IPA, which will in turn allow you to better learn phonology? No. But can it help you check the work you've already done on your transcriptions? Yes. I'd recommend anyone to use this site (or sites like this) sparingly and only as a check-my-work tool.

If you know of any other websites that are helpful for students learning phonetics and IPA, please send them along.

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