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Published on 26 Aug 2014 | over 3 years ago

This lesson explains the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and how it can help with English pronunciation.

I start the lesson by defining the International Phonetic Alphabet and showing why it is so useful. The letters of a word don't help us in knowing how to pronounce it because the same letter can have lots of different sounds in different words. For example, the letter "c" has a very different sound in the word "car" compared to the letter "c" in the word "dice". Also the same phonetic sound can be produced by lots of different combinations of letters.

The IPA is a system for representing each phonetic sound with a symbol and we use use these symbols to transcribe the correct pronunciation of a word. In the English language, there are 44 phonetic symbols and sounds made up of vowels (short and long), dipthongs and consonant sounds. In this video, I pronounce all of the 44 sounds (actually called phonemes) and show you the corresponding symbol. On top of these standard 44 sounds, American English has a few other specific sounds which I also pronounce and briefly explain.

Among the consonant sounds, there is a set of 8 pairs of consonants - In each pair, there is a voiceless consonant (example "p") and its equivalent voiced consonant (example "b"). Each pair's sound (example both the "p" and "b" sound) is produced by exactly the same mouth and tongue position. The only difference is that the voiceless consonant sound (example "p") is produced only by the mouth whereas the voiced consonant sound (example "b") is produced by the vibrations of the vocal cords in the throat.

I also present some IPA special characters which are used to represent the start and end of a phonetic transcription, the stressed syllable and the start of a new syllable.

The accent in the video is a British English accent but I do try to pronounce the 3-4 American English sounds with an American accent :)


Private English lessons & speaking practice: goo.gl/T7bKHx

Here is the link to the PDF reference file with all the IPA symbols and example words:

IPA reference file: drive.google.com/file/d/0B8v1Z0nKnKCaYW9Tbkc1Tjg2VHc/edit

Free online dictionary with IPA as seen in the video: www.dictionary.cambridge.org

Here are the playlists of my English lessons:

Grammar lessons: www.youtube.com/playlist

Listening exercises: www.youtube.com/playlist

Vocabulary videos: www.youtube.com/playlist

Crown Academy of English

Photo credits:

"All The Best Guys!" Image courtesy of stockimages | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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