The phonetic alphabet: overview
Hi, I’m Maria Fernandez, your English teacher. In this video, I’m going to show you how the phonetic alphabet is going to help you improve your English pronunciation really fast.
Years ago, when I bought my first English pronunciation course and opened it, this is what came to my mind: why should I waste my time learning those strange symbols instead of focusing on speaking?
After a couple of pages, I understood why.
English has 26 written letters and 45 sounds. Which means that, to get the phonetic transcription of all the sounds, you need extra symbols.
The good news is that many of the symbols in the phonetic alphabet are identical to the written letters: /b/, /d/, /f/, /g/, /h/, /j/, /k/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /p/, /r/, /s/, /t/, /v/, /w/, /z/.
But you need extra symbols to represent the sounds in: “th”, “sh”, “ch”, “ng”, a few other consonant sounds, and the long and short vowels.
Here is an example. Play this flashcard from my English pronunciation course to hear it said by two native speakers:
What does the phonetic alphabet look like?
Here’s the phonetic alphabet chart. Click on it to enlarge it:
Why learning the phonetic alphabet is a great idea
You only need to do one pronunciation lesson to realise that knowing the phonetic alphabet is going to make your life a lot easier.
In fact, NOT knowing the phonetic alphabet is going to make English pronunciation really hard to learn.
I can think of three reasons why you’ll love the phonetic alphabet:
- In less than an hour, you’ll be familiar with the 45 written symbols.
- Your English pronunciation will improve from day one, and fast.
- You’ll be able to figure out the pronunciation of any word you look up in a dictionary with phonetic transcriptions.
Knowing the phonetic alphabet will allow you to get the most out of my English pronunciation course, and make fast progress.
By the way, you only need to be able to read the phonetic symbols, not write them. That’s why, with my phonetic alphabet interactive flashcards, it takes less than an hour to familiarise yourself with all the written symbols.