The International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA can be extremely useful for learning English pronunciation and also helps with accent training, including accent reduction. Originally developed to make teaching foreign languages easier, the “alphabet” was started in 1886 by a linguist named Paul Passy. The IPA first transcribed the sounds of French, English, and German, but later added symbols to handle Arabic and Hindi, and even the click-sounds in some languages.
The IPA uses phonetic symbols to represent the sounds, not the spelling, of a language. One symbol represents one sound. And since English spelling is inconsistent, and a letter does not always represent how a word is said, learning the phonetic symbols should help you pronounce any word properly. Sounds great, right?Well, the IPA is be a valuable tool,but it can also be really overwhelming! With so many symbols to learn and the endless number of sound combinations in English, the IPA is definitely complex. So how do we simplify it for speakers who are learning English?
Think of learning the IPA as a 4-step process. First you have to figure out how the IPA works, and then you have to learn the phonetic symbols for consonants, vowels and diphthongs. Once you know the symbols you can apply them to help with English pronunciation. The key is to only focus on the symbols that are most important for learning English.
1. Understanding the IPA
3. Learn the vowel symbols, a few at a time.
There are many vowel symbols to learn for English pronunciation. Concentrate on the most commonly occurring vowels to make it more manageable.
4. Learn the diphthongs
Diphthongs are two vowels sounds which are blended together, and there are a number of them in English. Concentrate on learning the most frequent occurring diphthongs.
Now that you understand how the IPA works and have learned the symbols, you can apply the IPA to study English pronunciation.
We hope this tutorial has been helpful. For more information on accents and accent reduction, check out changeyouraccent.com.