Spoken English is made up of forty particular person sounds together with twenty 4 consonant sounds and sixteen vowels sounds. With solely twenty six letters within the ABC’s, the Latin alphabet has by no means precisely represented English talking.

Whereas the ABC’s have labored adequately for written English since 1476, there has not been an acceptable phonetic alphabet to point the sounds of the language till 2001.

The English Phonetic Alphabet

24 Consonants

/b/, /d/, /f/, /g/, /h/, /j/, /ok/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /p/, /r/, /s/, /t/, /v/, /w/, /y/, /z/

/CH/, /SH/, /TH/, /th/, /ng/, /Zh/

16 Vowels

/Ay/, /a/, /Ey/, /e/, /Iy/, /i/, /Ow/, /o/, /Uw/, /u/, /^/, /Oy/, /Aw/, /Er/, /Ar/, /Or/

The Influence of ABC’s on ESL – Could Chan’s Story

The secretary burst into my classroom. “Are you able to come – now” she pleaded and disappeared again into the corridor. I motioned to my class to work on their very own and adopted her. From the pc lab on the far finish of the varsity, I may hear the sound of a person shouting. After we entered the lab, he stopped “I am unable to perceive what she’s saying”, the repairman snapped as he backed away from a younger Chinese language lady.

The pc lab in our midtown grownup group college was lined with second-hand workplace computer systems. Could Chan, a graduate of our college was employed there as an assistant. It was her job to load the suitable software program into the computer systems for every class. That day she stood alone pointing to a cumbersome previous unit. A single tear rolled down her cheek. In my expertise, Chinese language individuals are mannequin college students: they’re proud, quiet individuals. I had by no means seen a Chinese language scholar cry and it broke my coronary heart. Could Chan pointed to the monitor and whispered, “To soun. Eyychoo. To soun.”

She was ashamed of her Chinese language accent and the impolite technician had humiliated her. I requested her what was unsuitable and she or he repeated, “To soun. Eyychoo. To soun.” However I couldn’t perceive her reply. “Are you able to write it down?” I requested, and gave her a pen.

E C H O, she printed, and all of it made sense. The pc was sending two sounds; it had an echo. She knew the best phrase, however in English figuring out the best phrase doesn’t at all times assist. What Could Chan didn’t perceive was English, letters don’t symbolize sounds. The connection between English letters and sounds is so weak, nobody can communicate English from studying it.

The Lesson: Spelling is Random

Could Chan was making the traditional ESL learner’s mistake of announcing a phrase the way in which it seems to be. English doesn’t work like that. Understanding the variations between written English and spoken English is the important thing. The alphabet, spelling, grammar and punctuation are all about writing and don’t have anything in any way to do with talking. In English, spelling is random and talking shouldn’t be writing mentioned out loud.

When a scholar’s capability to learn and write English far outstrips their capability to talk it, writing it down is a good technique for communication hiccoughs (pronounced /hik ups/ – living proof). One thing ESL college students are stunned to be taught is that native English audio system have no idea find out how to pronounce phrases from studying them, both. English spelling has been hopeless for an extended, very long time.

The Age-Previous Downside

English as a spoken language has been creating since 450 AD and generally makes use of 40 sounds. The Latin alphabet (or ABCs) with its 26 symbols has solely been utilized by most of the people to print the English language since 1476 AD when William Caxton arrange his printing press in London. English makes use of extra sounds than it has letters! The Latin alphabet has by no means precisely represented spoken English.

For instance, what’s the sound of the letter ‘g’ in beige, storage and style? What’s the sound of the letter ‘s’ in Asia, common and tv? /Zh/ is a French sound and there’s no particular letter for it in English.

The Resolution that Didn’t Work

Dictionaries typically use a set of symbols generally known as the Worldwide Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Sadly, that alphabet doesn’t work effectively for English. The origin of IPA is French the place the letter ‘e’ is named ‘euh’ and ‘i’ is named ‘e’ and so forth. Regardless of the inherent confusion, the IPA had an excellent run and survived for a couple of hundred and twenty years. Right now there may be little tolerance for the system, as a result of the obscure IPA symbols haven’t any illustration on the usual laptop keyboard.

The Resolution that Labored

In 2001, English lastly acquired its personal 40- image, computer-friendly phonetic alphabet the place every image represents one and just one sound within the English language.

College students must be taught their ABC’s for studying and writing and the English Phonetic Alphabet / ingli SH funedik alfabet/ for talking. When learners can see how phrases sound, they pronounce them with confidence!


· Write it down is a suitable technique if talking shouldn’t be working

· English writing and English talking are totally different languages

· The Latin alphabet doesn’t symbolize English sounds

· The English Phonetic Alphabet (EPA) is a phonetic system that works

And be sure you fireplace the bastards that make your college students cry.


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