Introduction to IPA Vowels - Resource Guide 2

Today's newsletter is our second Resource Guide, and it's for teaching the vowels of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a classic intro linguistics course topic, with a few resources for working with the IPA in general. This guide is a companion to Introduction to IPA Consonants (Resource Guide 1).

Most intro classes we've encountered will include suprasegmentals and other phonetic features in the same week as vowels, but this worksheet is focused on vowels. Next Friday's Resource Guide will be about introducing morphemes. 

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 different sounds, it's useful to be able to convey precisely and unambiguously in writing exactly which one we're talking about, even when people may have different accents, dialects, or pet spelling conventions. Vowels in particular require particular attention because they are more of gradient than categorical phenomena.

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 phonetics in general.

  • UBC Enunciate: Vowels - On the IPA vowel chart, clicking on each symbol least to its identification (height, backness, roundness), a list of some languages in which it occurs, and an animated video of its production alongside another video of a human speaker pronouncing it with the corresponding MRI footage superimposed over the speaker.

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

  • IPA Lab Audio Illustrations - A highly 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 the IPA.

Videos & Podcasts

Explanations & Demonstrations

Related Subjects & Interesting Facts

Tech Tips


Something fun

The Journal of the IPA accepted articles written in IPA from the late 1800s all the way up until 1971.

Via May Helena Plumb

In other news

See you on Monday for 3 Links about semantics, and stay tuned for next Friday's Resource Guide on morphemes.  


Kate, Lauren, Gretchen and Liz. 

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. Our 3 Links editor is Liz McCullough, and our Resource Guide contributor is Kate Whitcomb (Layman's Linguist).

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