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Teaching the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) Chart – English Class – High School

Communication, as a 21st Century Skill, is a fundamental aspect of Global Citizenship, THISREAL competencies, and our SHICKEL virtues at Rochester School. Knowing the difference between certain phonemes in English gives us the ability to communicate fluently and effectively. This can be tricky for students as English has 20 vowel sounds, whereas Spanish only has 5. For this reason, miscommunication can often occur. Consequently, teaching students the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) can raise their awareness of the position of their tongue, lips, and jaw when they are speaking; aid their memorization of certain sounds through the use of mime and symbols; and finally, and most importantly, satisfy their basic needs of love and belonging and power as they are able to feel more confident in their spoken production.

The IPA chart is divided into 3 parts: monophthongs, diphthongs, and consonants. The benefit of learning the symbols for the sounds is that teachers are able to refer to these symbols throughout the year when students are learning new vocabulary and expressions. Rather than providing the student with the correct pronunciation, which can easily be forgotten, students recognize the phonemic symbol as a visual hook for the sound and are encouraged to produce the sounds on their own.

Over the past few classes, I have introduced my 10th Grade students to the IPA chart by using Adrian Underhill´s (2005) techniques of using mime and gesture to elicit the different sounds. The students were able to complete a variety of individual, pair, and group work activities to practice. For example: matching words to the phonemes, learning the gestures of the different phonemes, reading the phonetic script, and writing new words that have the same phoneme sounds.

The students were incredibly engaged throughout these classes and could see the usefulness of learning the phonetic alphabet.

Resources: Underhill, A. (2005). Sound Foundations: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation. Macmillan Education.

Jennifer Chant Acevedo English Teacher

Resumen: La comunicación, como Habilidad del Siglo XXI, es un aspecto fundamental de la CiudadanÃ

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