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Polish your Phonetics!

Polish your Phonetics!

Teaching English Phonetics and Phonology

Great news from Global English! In our 250-hour TESOL Master course we have fantastic section on Phonetics and Phonology. Now we have just launched this as a standalone course, called Introduction to Phonetics.  

In these modules, you’ll be able to go in-depth as you analyse English phonetics, phonology and pronunciation. You’ll learn phonemic script, understand why different nationalities struggle with English pronunciation, how sounds are produced in the vocal tract, the importance of intonation, how we can teach stress and plenty more. We link out to some of the best audio and video around today to bring the course to life and illustrate key concepts. Few TEFL teachers have an in-depth understanding of this complex area of English language teaching, so this is a perfect course if you have completed a 120 hour qualification or a CELTA/Trinity Certificate level course and want to develop your TEFL skills. 

One of the most useful parts of this Introduction to Phonetics course is the way we look at different language groups and identify specific problems that they have. So you will see targetted tips on helping speakers from Spanish, French, Hindi and several other language groups to overcome specific pronunciation problems.

Take a sneaky peek at some sample pages...

We believe in try before you buy, so to see a sample page on Elision, (that is where we drop certain sounds from our speech), click here. Alternately, to get to grips with some terminology on how to teach your students to make sounds correctly, have a look at our page on Points of Articulation


Quiz - how is your knowledge of the English language?

So what do you know about the language already? Try this simple quiz (answers are at the bottom of the page) with lots more on these areas in our Introduction to Phonetics course:

1)      English is known as a stress-timed language. What does this mean?

2)      The most common sound in the English language is the ‘schwa’ vowel sound as underlined in ‘sofa,  which occurs in unstressed (weak) syllables. Which 2 words normally contain the schwa sound in their final syllable from the following?

banana                 courses                    sister                     sleazy                   


The next step

We believe that informed teachers who continue to learn and develop their skills themselves make better professionals. So if this is you, then we hope that you’ll consider this course to be a great way of developing your skills in this vital area. See our Introduction to Phonetics course page for more information.

Enjoy...       /ɛnˈdʒɔɪ/


Answers to the quiz

1) English is known as a stress-timed language. What does this mean?

This means that stress in a spoken sentence generally occurs at regular intervals and so we will ‘swallow’ some syllables in order to keep the rhythm. Since key words are stressed, we swallow the less important words or syllables. Here’s an example:

In ‘I like eating in the pub’ we spend longer and stress the key words ‘I/like/eat/pub’ and say quickly or swallow ‘ing/in/the’. This swallowing of words can make English difficult to follow for our learners.

French, by contrast it is syllable-timed, where each syllable occupies the same amount of time and is generally given equal weight. More on stress-timed language here.

2) The most common sound in the English language is the schwa vowel sound, as underlined here in ‘sofa’ /ˈsoʊ fə/, which occurs in unstressed (weak) syllables.

Which 2 words normally (although slightly depending on accent) contain the schwa sound in their final syllable from the following?

banana           courses            sister              sleazy  

Answer: banana and sister (we tend to say sistuh rather than sister)  


Blog updated October 2018

  • Author: William Bradridge
  • Date: Tuesday 21st February 2012
  • Download File: phonetics.jpg


David Shaffer

Isn't the 2nd syllable of "courses" more commonly pronounced as a schwa than the second syllable of "sister"?

Louisa Walsh

Don't think so, David. At least not is standard British English. I'd say the 2nd syllable is pronounced more like 'sIz'

David Shaffer

Then this is a difference in American and British English. Thank you.

Patricia Harrison

In Australian English we would also normally pronounce 'courses' with a shwa in the final syllable. Same with 'sister' and (often, but not always) 'banana'.

Betsy Lowe

I agree with David and Patricia. In American English, we definitely say sistER, pronouncing the r. Banana would have the schwa in the first syllable, and courses in the second. Shaw was right!

Nahid shahriarpour

It's true,but what's about different accents?

Louisa Walsh

Thank you, David, Patricia and Betsy - good point; I should have said for no.2 in British English which 2 sounds normally contain the schwa sound?
Thanks, Nahid for your comment. You can use the phonetic alphabet to represent the pronunciation of words by different accents, too.

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Polish your Phonetics!