There wont' be any verbal help, just text.

I understand it's difficult since the IPA is the Alphabet for the representation of all sounds and if you try to explain rules etc in a language, you are bounded by the sounds that this language uses.

Thanks for the help

2 Answers 2


I learned the IPA entirely online. I don't see why its that much of an issue.

I started with learning how sounds are produced. The first things I learned were the concepts of 'place of articulation' and 'manner of articulation'. The first is obviously easier to explain.

You can pretty easily teach someone about place of articulation. For example, you can explain that p, b, and m are all bilabial consonants, because they're pronounced by touching the lips together. F and v are labio-dental, because they are pronounced by touching the upper teeth to the lower lip. Etc etc...

If you want an example of how it can be done, go look at the Language Construction Kit. Though admittedly, it might be somewhat difficult without being able to show someone a chart, but you can find plenty of charts online that you can point them to. Also, its not that hard to make a consonant chart in a word program.

As for learning new consonants? That's harder. I myself had no problem learning the voiceless velar fricative from a book, but that may just be me. Also, being an English-speaker, my native language has both velars and fricatives. Learning a velar fricative wasn't really that much of a leap. Though come to think of it, I was also able to learn the voiceless palatal fricative just as easily.

Normally, learning a sound when you can't hear what it sounds like is hard, unless you're already very familiar with how phones/phonemes are produced. Wikipedia has sound files for all the symbols of the IPA (each symbol has its own article), but the sound quality isn't the greatest. Either way, it is something.

  • I want to teach it in a written way. No sounds, no online resources.
    – Joker
    Aug 21, 2017 at 14:09
  • 1
    J.C. Catford's book A Practical Introduction to Phonetics is made to be studied alone. Designed for autodidacts, it's full of little experiments the reader can try out to produce and modify sounds.
    – jlawler
    Aug 23, 2017 at 8:44

You can maybe try relating it to common phones in words of your language , for starters and then develop upon the harder ones (non-local-phones). For example, in English the 'question mark thingy' in IPA is the middle of 'uh-oh' and 'x' is the sound in Lochness.

  • For 'common phones in words of your language', you can use lexical sets, e.g. J.C.Wells, 1982, Accents of English, ch. 2.2. However the most obvious way is to just use place and manner of articulation
    – Nworb
    Aug 23, 2017 at 7:45
  • @Nworb thanks for the suggestion, but, tell me, isn't Lexical sets a way to differentiate just between dialects? And isn't place and manner of articulation too difficult to convey in writing? Except for Korean ;) Aug 23, 2017 at 7:56
  • Yes - I just meant it's helpful to have the term 'lexical sets' alongside your suggestion for 'common phones' because lexical sets are the standardised way of representing what you suggested, i.e. common phones in a language, and using agreed-on standards makes e.g. finding out more information easier. Place and manner of articulation aren't too difficult to convey in writing as the IPA tables illustrate. You look at the vowel or consonant chart and you reproduce the sound in your mouth, e.g. bilabial means you use both lips.
    – Nworb
    Aug 23, 2017 at 9:03
  • @Nworb ah I see, ok thanks again!. Also, I know perfectly well about what an IPA is :) , but when I was a novice myself , I couldn't get along well with all the features Aug 23, 2017 at 9:34

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