What is the phonemic alphabet?

Quite simply, the phonemic alphabet is a series of symbols that represent the sounds of spoken communication. Its fundamental principle is that one symbol represents exactly one sound, and one sound is represented by exactly one symbol.

For instance, the word “bags” has four sounds (b-a-g-s) and is represented by four symbols, as /bægz/; the word “green” also has four sounds (g-r-ee-n) and is represented as /griːn/; “listen” has five sounds (the “t” is silent) for /ˈlɪsən/; and “six” has four sounds, /sɪks/.

Of course each learner has his own learning style, and while it is possible to learn a language without using phonemic symbols, my teaching includes their use in order to give the student as many tools as possible to help them reach their goals. I’ll have more information about the phonemic alphabet in future posts; go to “Follow AD” at the bottom on this page to stay up to date!

Jeremy Coffman, English teacher & diction coach, Paris

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