Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Transcribe English to IPA

This is a neat site that will transcribe English texts into phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Here is the IPA transcription of the text above created at
 ðɪs ɪz ə niːt saɪt ðət wl trænˈskraɪb ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ teksts ˈɪntə fəˈnetɪk trænˈskrɪpʃn̩z ɪn ði ˌɪntəˈnæʃn̩əl fəˈnetɪk ˈælfəbet 

How to use this with students?

First of all, you will need to introduce the IPA symbols to students.  here is a nice GIF that has been designed for classroom use, and made for photocopying in black and white.

Downloaded from

  • Initially, students may be a bit reluctant about learning the IPA, as most electronic or web-based dictionaries now include sound (or text-to-speech options).  However, you can point out that this will help them focus on accuracy of pronunciation in a way that just hearing won't.  
  • This is particularly important with sounds that students 'can't hear' because of their L1 filters.  For Turkish students, B and P are hard to distinguish, for example, and sounds like the 'schwa' or 'th' do not exist in Turkish.
  1. As a warmer, transcribe a sentence or two with the featured language point of the lesson.  Have students work in pairs to write this in English.  This process will involve students 'discovering' features of spoken English, as well as the grammar or lexis in the language point.  This is a bit of a variation on the DICTOGLOSS method.
  2. Use IPA transcriptions for the missing words in a gap fill.
  3. Create a 'jumbled' sentence, using phrases or chunks, and then transcribe the phrases and have students recreate the original sentence (spoken as well as written).
  4. Produce two versions (one RP and the other American) and get students to decide which is which.  For example,
    That advertisement for tomatoes is awesome.  Which of the following is American?  Why?
    ðət ədˈvɜːtɪsmənt fə təˈmɑːtəʊz ɪz ˈɔːsəm
    ðət ədvɝːˈtaɪzmənt fər təˈmeɪtoʊz ɪz ˈɑːsəm 
  5. Transcribe some famous poetry or song lyrics, and have students write out the correct verse or lyric.  Then listen to an MP3 podcast or the song to check the pronunciation and note variations on the stress that result from the context of the poem or song.
What I like about this site
  • Relatively easy to use for short sentences (less than 300 characters) and is free
  • Has great options to include stress marks and syllables if you want.
  • Has options for RP and American transcriptions
  • Has a download to work with longer texts.  The download has some neat features (like a 'Rhymes with' search and 'sound wildcard' search--great for minimal pairs).  See
  • Can embed an IPA transcriber into your web page.  See below.

What I'm not so sure about
  • With any effort to use IPA, you will run into FONT issues.  For example, in order for the IPA symbols to appear in the browser (as in this post), you need to 'tweak' the HTML code with a SPAN code that looks like this: <span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: Lucida Sans Unicode, sans-serif;">YOUR TRANSCRIBED IPA</span>
  • The transcriptions are not always accurate.  For example, in the idea to compare British and American accents above, I had to change the stress marker in ADVERTISEMENT for the US pronunciation, and I also had to change the dipthong on TOMATOES for the US pronunciation.  It does keep you on your toes!

Any other ideas, comments or suggestions?


  1. That's great.I also want to add an app TranscribeMe which provide Audio Transcription Services,digital transcription services and many more.You can try this one also.

  2. Anson - I am just entering the world of mobile devices, so thanks for the heads up on related APPs. I still tend to go for the free APPs...have you tried the DRAGON DICTATION APP? It's pretty good, especially considering that it is free.

  3. Yes British and American English pronunciations have some differences in many cases. Also, I think that this site can be used when our students have some pronunciation problems. I believe that they will learn better with these transcriptions.

  4. The site is useful in terms of becoming aware of differences among different accents such as American and British. So, by this way, you can make your students to distinguish intonation patterns, stresses... between two accents to become advance in the language.

  5. I think American and British English are different. This IPA site can be very helpful in teaching pronunciation. Students will improve their pronunciation by using it.

  6. Until now I have'nt find any online IPa translators; however I've found some site but they all were different from what we learned before. This site is useful to dffierences in terms of both in English and american English and student who are taught photec transcriptions can easily check and compare their writings according to texts.

  7. Yes, British and American English pronounciations are different in some words. In my opinion, this site is very useful for everyone especially, to us who are dealing with the language. Within using this site we can show the pronounciations of the words and the differences between two dialects. This site can be used more in linguistics courses by using it we can show the accurate version of the pronounciatons of the words to the students.It will be more reliable to see them in written way too.

  8. Actually, it is a well known issue that Am and Br Englishes are different in pronounciation.
    This IPA can be beneficial for our students when they mistakes. They can easily learn the mistakes that they make. Before that they also need to use phonetic alphabets.

  9. American and British English pronounciatin is different from some aspects. For example, while we use ''r'' or ''ɔ'' in American English mostly, we can see that ''r'' isn't mostly used in British English ''r'' and ''ɔ'' aren't used mostly. Instead of ''ɔ'',in British English ''ə'' is used mostly. I think that API transcrition site can ben used in prnounciation courses and develop the students' knowledge about their prnounciation and how to pronounce words correctly.

  10. There are differences between American pronuonciation and British pronounciation and with this site students can make a realization these differences.

  11. This blog post is highly informational and matured enough with its quality and layout in defining transcription services. I will wait for more such informative posts in future.

  12. You have created a very interesting site. These tips are very useful. Medicinal transcription is still the primary mechanism for a physician to clearly connect with other healthcare providers who access the patient record, to advise them on the state of the patient's health and past/present treatment, and to assure steadiness of care. Thanks.Transcription service

  13. this tools is same function .

  14. No intervocalic t (alveolar flap) in the GA transcriptions is a problem. Otherwise, pretty good.

  15. Thanks for this post! Just a tiny correction: the image that is provided doesn't use the International Phonetic Alphabet. It uses the Initial Teaching Alphabet. There is a lot of similarity in the way that consonants are represented, but the vowel representations are quite different. See the comparison chart here:

  16. Within using this site we can show the pronunciations of the words and the differences between two dialects. This site can be used more in linguistics courses by using it we can show the accurate version of the pronunciations of the words to the students.It will be more reliable to see them in written way too.

    Source: Translation services