Introduction to IPA Consonants - Resource Guide 1

Today's newsletter is our first Resource Guide, and it's for teaching the consonants of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a classic intro linguistics course topic, with a few resources for the IPA in general. 

Most intro classes we've encountered start with consonants rather than vowels, since what's going on in the mouth for, say, /p/ is more concrete and easy to describe than, say, /a/. We'll get to IPA vowels in next Friday's Resource Guide. (Put your email below to make sure you don’t miss it.)

Why this topic is useful

The International Phonetic Alphabet is sort of like the Periodic Table of the Elements for linguistics, or at least for phonetics — when we're talking about spoken languages, it's useful to be able to convey precisely and unambiguously in writing exactly which sounds we're talking about, even when people may have different accents, dialects, or pet spelling conventions. 

IPA Charts

  • Interactive IPA Chart
    A free, web-based IPA chart. Each symbol is clickable and plays the corresponding phoneme. Good for an introduction to IPA or phonology in general.

  • IPA Lab Audio Illustrations
    A far more detailed and complete IPA chart showing more phonemes and diacritics with detailed descriptions at the bottom of the screen for each symbol you click on. This would be good for a more complete and technical look at phonology and the IPA.

  • OSU Interactive IPA Chart
    6 separate interactive IPA charts for specific phonemes found in these major world languages: Chinese, English, Indian, Korean, Spanish, Turkish.

  • rtMRI IPA charts
    Each clickable phoneme or word corresponds to an MRI of someone’s oral and nasal cavities while they say that phoneme/word.

Videos & Podcasts

Explanations & Demonstrations

Narrow Subjects & Interesting Facts

Tech Tips


  • Two blog posts on teaching IPA transcription in the digital age from Angus Grieve-Smith, who addresses the problem of not being able to have students repeat back their transcriptions to check if they're accurately representing their own dialects (as many profs do in a face-to-face class) by instead having students transcribe based on other, linkable audio clips, such as the YouTube Accent Tag challenge and asking students to record audio files of themselves reading IPA transcriptions

  • Introducing the IPA: quizzes
    The first batch of quizzes are all about consonants. For the Phonetic Symbols quizzes (#2-4), you match the IPA consonant symbol with the appropriate word.
    Unfortunately, the Sound/Symbol Recognition quizzes (#5-8) don’t work as well (they require a Quicktime plugin which may not be available on all devices, especially if students are stuck on phones rather than laptops).
    If you want students to learn names of symbols (e.g. eth, theta), Phonetic Symbols (#9) may also be useful. 

  • IPA Quiz: Consonants (Sporcle)
    Given a word in English, match the indicated part of the word with the correct IPA consonant symbol. Pretty basic but accurate; good for wrapping up an introduction of IPA. 

  • IPA Bingo Game Card [Downloadable PDF]
    A downloadable PDF with 100 different IPA symbol Bingo cards. Could be used with a video link class as a low-stakes "quiz".  

Something fun

Via All Things Linguistic

In other news

This edition we are pleased to introduce Kate Whitcomb, who also runs the blog The Layman's Linguist, as Mutual Intelligibility's Resource Guides contributor. Reaching out to other people for help is how we're going to get through this. 

See you on Monday for 3 Links about 2nd year Phonology, and stay tuned for next Friday's Resource Guide on IPA Vowels. 

Lauren, Gretchen, Kate, and the currently-expanding Mutual Intelligibility team. 

This Resource Guide is also available on (where you can subscribe for email updates to future issues), and as a google doc or pdf


About Mutual Intelligibility

Mutual Intelligibility is a project to connect linguistics instructors with online resources, especially as so much teaching is shifting quickly online due to current events. It's produced by Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch, with the support of our patrons on Lingthusiasm, and our Resource Guides contributor is Kate Whitcomb (The Layman's Linguist). Further team members to be announced shortly. 

The newsletter consists of 3 Links on a topic on Mondays and Wednesdays and longer Resource Guides on Fridays, both of which are free and will always remain free, but if you have a stable income and find that they’re reducing your stress and saving you time, we're able to fund these because of the Lingthusiasm Patreon and your contributions enable us to fund more guides, more quickly

Here’s where you can tell us which topics would be useful for you. The more requests we get for a specific topic, the more it helps us prioritize resources that will help the most people. 

Here’s where you can send us links (of either things you’ve made or have found useful) for potential inclusion in future newsletters. You can send a single link, or a set of three which may become a 3 Links guest-post! (With credit to you.) 

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This Resource Guide was created by Mutual Intelligibility and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.