Center for Language Education
The Hong Kong University
of Science and Technology

English Advice Sheets



The aim of this leaflet

This leaflet introduces you to the IPA phonetic symbols commonly used in dictionaries. It also gives suggestions on how you can learn to recognise the symbols so that you are able to pronounce unfamiliar words by consulting the dictionary on your own.

IPA phonetic symbols

The table below summarises the 19 vowel sounds and 24 consonant sounds in the English language.

You can find cassette recordings of this table in the Audio Area.
Look for:
‘Pronunciation Advice Sheet – P5. IPA Phonetic Symbols’
You can choose either:
British Female or British Male

Learning activities

Below are some ways to familiarise yourself with the phonetic symbols.

B.If you find the above practice simple, instead of following step by step, you can think of as many words as possible and write them out in a web. E.g. start with the word sheep.

C. Again using a dictionary, find as many words as you can with the sound that you want to practice. Use the words to make up a poem. Ask someone, an Language Commons Adviser for example, to record your poem for you and then use this as practice material. You could listen to your tape and practice saying the poem as much as possible. Once you feel confident about your pronunciation, you could make a tape of yourself saying the poem and then compare it to the original. This could be a good way of testing your progress.

Learning tips


This leaflet is part of the Pronunciation series of leaflets supporting independent language learning, produced by the HKUST Center for Language Education Language Commons team. This leaflet was written by Sarah Toogood and Kitty Wong, 1997. Revised by Sarah Toogood 2000. If you copy from this leaflet, please acknowledge the source. Thanks.

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It has not been updated nor maintained since 1 Sept 2021.

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