Do speech therapists and speech pathologists have to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet as part of their profession? They might want to learn it, but my question really is: are they required to learn it?

  • 3
    Are you asking about legal requirements, or practical requirements (e.g. an engineer effectively "has to" know calculus)?
    – user6726
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 14:45
  • 2
    In my country (Brazil) speech pathologists took basic phonetics classes with us linguists, as a required first-year subject in their undergraduate course. So I expect speech pathologists are required to learn it in order to graduate. They probably also study their own extensions to the IPA after doing basic phonetics. Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 17:01
  • Speech pathology is treated as applied linguistics in every country where I'm familiar with the training of speech pathologists. Particularly with phonetics; they have to know phonetics really well, because they deal with it clinically every day.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 1:13
  • We cannot answer the question unless you specify the answers to 1) Required by whom? 2) Required for what purpose? And possibly (depending on the answers to 1 and 2): 3) In what jursidiction?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 20:03
  • There is one further point that needs to be clarified: learn how well? Generally, phoneticians have to learn the IPA totally save for the disordered extensions; linguists have to learn errrm 50% of it; I believe that SPHS students only have to learn the English subset (and maybe the disordered extension, depending on institution). That would differ in France, Germany, Greece, etc.
    – user6726
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 1:12

1 Answer 1


Before I retired (7 years ago) I taught a linguistics course in articulatory phonetics from time to time. About half my class were undergraduate majors in Speech Pathology. So that course was clearly a requirement for Speech Path at that time.

I used IPA in the course, but there was never a requirement to learn IPA. Linguistics is not about learning notations. You can just look at a chart for that.

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