About the chart
- Pure vowels are arranged the same way as in the IPA chart: according to mouth shape (left to right, lips wide / round - top to bottom, jaw closed / open).
- Diphthongs are grouped in rows according to their second sound.
Try some pronunciation activities
- Telephone number pronunciation
- What's the pronunciation?
- Pronunciation of past simple verbs
- Phonemic symbols to download
- Using the phonemic chart for autonomous learning
You can download a non-interactive image version of the British Council's phonemic chart below.
Sounds Right app
The interactive phonemic chart is available for you to download from the Google Play store for Android devices or the App store for Apple devices. Find out more about the interactive mobile app version of the phonemic chart
Hi, great debate here.
Yes, the sample sounds need to be greatly improved. It would also be useful to have a video of someone pronouncing the sounds. (There used to be one, but it wasn't very good. The pronunciation of the schwa, particularly, was incorrect.)
Also, this chart doesn't include the sound of the intervocalic 't' that in standard US English occurs before an unstressed vowel (as in 'waiting'). I know that this is a British chart, but the vast majority of students in the world have more exposure to standard US English than standard British English. What harm could it do to mention this very common variation?
However, phonemic charts in general aren't very useful, partly because most dictionaries publish different versions anyway, but mainly because the majority of the symbols are based on English sound-symbol correlations - which are, of course, different to the sound-symbol correlations in other languages. (For example, when my Spanish speakers see the symbol /d/ in a phonemic chart, they don't pronounce the sound of the English 'd', they pronounce the sound of the Spanish 'd', which is much closer to the 'th' in 'then' than the 'd' in 'den'.) In other words, the IPA is great for native English speakers trying to learn the pronunciation of foreign languages; not so great for people trying to learn the English language. But I guess we're stuck with it.
BTW: Can anyone explain to me why the schwa is classified as a vowel sound? Unlike consonant sounds (which are produced through contact or friction between parts of the mouth), vowel sounds are produced through movement of parts of the mouth (jaw, lips, tongue). But the schwa is pronounced without any movement at all, so can we really consider it a vowel sound?
Because it's such an important sound (the key to authentic pronunciation and successful listening comprehension), and doesn't even exist in many languages, I'd put it in a separate category of its own (together with the 'long' schwa), with a note explaining that although all languages have vowels and consonants, in English we have a third type of sound called a 'schwa'. (Speaking of which, why do you use the /3:/ symbol for the 'long' schwa? Surely it's simpler to just put a colon after the schwa symbol, as many dictionaries do.)
I'd also reclassify /j/ and /w/ as vowel sounds, but that's a whole other debate!
Hello, I hope this is not too obvious a question but why is the "ue" in Tuesday not a phoneme yet the "ai" in pain, for example, is?
I'd say that the 'ue' in 'Tuesday' IS a phoneme (in this case, pronounced /u:/).
In relaxed 'British' English, the 't' before a 'u' is often pronounced with the phoneme 'ch' (sorry, can't put the symbol here), as in 'future' and 'natural'. So 'Tuesday' is actually pronounced 'choose-day', which means that the 'ue' combination is pronounced 'oo' (/u:/).
The 'ai' combination in 'pain' is the diphthong sound /ei/.
Hope that's useful,
Hi, thank you - that is useful to understand perhaps received pronounciation! I'm Welsh and we do tend to acccentuate dipthongs, particularly in words like "screw", "chew", "future" etc. I'm a literacy teacher and have been using the THRASS resources with my classes - the phoneme machine from THRASS says that there are two sounds in the "ue" in Tuesday, which is what got me thinking.
What about the first "u" in "future", though? surely that is a dipthong and a phoneme?
A download option for Mac users is something that we might be able to offer in the future. Thanks for your suggestion Chrislann!
Can i know how to download phonemic chart thru samsung note2?
At the moment the download options are those listed above. We may have other options available in the future so keep watching this space!