Home Forums iTDi TESOL Certificate Using a phonemic chart Using a phonemic chart


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    • #8392


      After using the lesson, how well do you feel you know phonemic symbols? Think about these questions:

      • – How does the sound system in your language, or a language you know, compare with English?
      • – Are there more phonemes or fewer?
      • – Which phonemes are similar or the same? Are there any which are completely different?
      • – Which are the most difficult English phonemes for your students?
    • #8497

      Steven Herder

      In Japanese, there are about 46 sounds that never change. They are easy to learn because they follow a pattern like:

      ka ki ku ke ko
      ma mi mu me mo
      sa shi su se so

      However, while speaking and listening are quite reasonable to learn, reading and writing are a really big challenge.

      l/r is probably the most popular of the most difficult
      b/v, th, are also problematic
      si/shi are surprisingly difficult for Japanese students

    • #8538

      Barbara Bujtás

      In Hungarian there are 39 phonemes, quite similar to English.
      There are no diphthongs though in the standard version of the language, they are present in regional dialects, so they are not so problematic to produce.
      The difficult phonemes are θ, ð, æ versus e, ŋ, v versus w.

      • #8573

        I found a Hungarian Youtube teacher who shares 44 sounds and another Hungarian teacher who refers to 43 letters. (I recall you writing that Hungarian is phonetic). So, is the difference due to regional variation?

        And am I right in thinking that the difficult English phonemes are the sounds that don’t exist in Hungarian?

    • #8565

      Rhett Burton

      There 40 korean phonemes (19 consonants and 21 vowels)
      The alphabet is very accurate and sounds rarely change.
      There are local dialects tho.

      Similiar to English
      g/k,c,n, m, s, b

      Different to English
      R and l, ng and many of the vowel stacks

      Most things that are different are initially difficult to learn.
      These means that most complex vowel sounds are more difficult to produce.
      I work with children. One of the most difficult tasks to producing sounds is repetition. Children are not a fan of too much drilling. I think adults might be opposed to it too.

      • #8589

        I recall the history of Hangul is fascinating …

        I was surprised that you mentioned repetition being one of the most difficult tasks to produce sounds, and that children weren’t a fan of drilling. But, I guess, with kids I usually associate ‘drilling’ with chanting, and practice with singing, as opposed to just lots of, “Listen and repeat”.

        With adults, too, I find that a short amount of time – at the point of need – working on pronunciation and teaching about the shape of the mouth and position of the tongue is most beneficial and welcome.

    • #10576

      Masatoshi Shoji

      – How does the sound system in your language, or a language you know, compare with English?
      It is said that there are 15 consonants and 5 vowels. However, they change depending on their positions.
      – Are there more phonemes or fewer?
      – Which phonemes are similar or the same? Are there any which are completely different?
      some of them are similar but not exactly the same as English sounds
      s/sh, b/v, f, th, r/l
      – Which are the most difficult English phonemes for your students?
      s/sh, b/v, f, th, r/l

    • #11677

      scott gray

      For Japanese, I find what I call the rooster effect is the hardest part to break them off of. By this, I mean since almost all sounds end in a vowel it is like a rooster walking where the head goes back and forth. This tends to make it harder for students to grasp that English is more like sledding down winter hills where there are ups and downs of different sizes but a fairly predictable pattern once you get the feel of the language.
      There are less than in English but other than the vowels, just l\r,b\v, s\z, and the stops like b,p.d.t it is not that hard but requires practice. Nowadays, many students have been hearing English or practicing from a young age that it is less of a problem and more a hindrance at the physical level. The mental aspect and motivation to change or try are the real obstacles to better pronunciation. So rather than the chart the flow of the language and chunking is where I find they need the most work.

      • #11681

        Good additional points reflecting students’ language learning experiences in Japan. A notable factor with teens can be about ‘classroom culture’ ‘fitting in’. I’ve taught several kids (either fully Japanese returnees or mixed with an English-speaking parent) who had good pronunciation but actually reverted to katakana pronunciation in order to blend in with their peers during JHS/HS as they felt embarrassed about having ‘native’ pronunciation. So, whilst we sometimes like to call on ‘model students’, those experiences made me more sensitive to how important it was to maintain a balance and nominate equally, and to be more aware that some capable students may (wish to) hide their abilities in front of classmates, etc.

    • #11749

      Rhett Burton

      Adding to my first post

      Since focusing more the differences between Korean and English through phonics, I have found that my many of students who continue to struggle with English pronunciation seem to have interferences with their L1. I see if often with /th/ and /d/. My students will write things like: dese, dat, dis instead of the these, that and this.  I have made included a lot more practice in my materials dese days. Note: Most of my students do not have this issue when starting from a younger age.


      • #11753

        Good to see your follow-up, Rhett, including changes to your materials. Your observation that those starting younger tend to have fewer issues mirrors the research into children’s ability to distinguish and therefore learn a wider range of sounds. However, it’s notable that the ability to hear all of the 800 sounds from the world’s languages seems to decline notably by 12 months of age:

      • #16443

        Rhett Burton

        The brain loves to take the path of least resistance. The brain finds patterns and learns to focus on what is being used the most. Babies have a mother and a father who most likely will choose to teach 1 or 2 languages (maybe 3) to start off with. We started our sons off with two from birth. Since then, they (my boys) have added a few more fun words or subjects to their skillsets.


    • #11763

      Jessica Sohn

      As Rhett mentioned in his earlier post, Korean has 40 sounds.
      So, that’s fewer than English. And I feel b, d, c, m, n, t sounds are similar to English.
      Whereas th/r/l/v + most of the two letter sounds are different.

      But I feel with the kids who start with learning the sounds, they are successful with the language.
      They are better than those who start without the sounds.

      • #11764

        That mirrors what I’ve heard and read also, with /f/ & /p/, /r/ & /l/,  and /v/ & /b/ being the minimal pairs that many Korean learners also say they struggle with. And /th/ affects many speakers learning English around the world.

    • #11775

      British Council Resources for the Phonemic Chart:


    • #11776

      American English State Department resources with The Color Vowel Chart:


    • #15274

      Naoko Amano

      Here are some ideas for Forum based on our last discussion:

      I can see the usefulness for students of learning the phonemic symbols

      Others have noted the differences in Japanese phenetic system

      Making a code puzzle for young learners would be fun and interesting.

      My students struggle a lot with the difference between “a” and “u” because they cannot hear any difference. Even when I show them the different mouth position, it is still difficult.

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