Thursday, 18 October 2007

Phonology can be fun and free

Phonetics Focus is a really wonderful new free resource produced by Cambridge English Online Ltd.

Basically it is a collection of interactive multimedia Flash based games and resources that can be accessed through the CEO website at

What is it?
In all there are almost 20 different interactive tools all accessible through the one page. These vary from an interactive phonemic chart where users can click on the symbols to hear the sounds and so develop their knowledge of the chart and the phonemic alphabet, through to more fun games which involve shooting the correct sounds to make a word in a ‘duck shoot’ type game.

What I liked about it
All of the activity types are pretty intuitive as they draw on standards like hangman, odd one out, word searches etc and they all have clear instructions. Many of the games and quizzes also have more than one level so this isn’t just for beginners.

Some of the really exceptional features are:

  • ‘Record and Practice’ which is a small tool that users can download to help them record and listen back to what they are saying.
  • ‘Flashcard Maker’ which helps you to make your own flashcards by either using images from an image library or sketching you own pictures on the program, and adding phonemic symbols to them. You can then print them up for use in class.
  • ‘Entry and Exit’ tests so that students can check their level before using the tools and then check again as often as they want afterwards.

What wasn’t so good
I can’t think of anything much wrong with this

I have to say that it’s rare to find really good computer based pronunciation materials, but to find them for free is a real exception. They are really nicely designed, work well, load pretty quickly and have made really good use of multimedia. This is a fantastic free resource that will be useful for teachers and for students of any level or age too.

Be sure to check it out

Please feel free to leave a comment if you use these tools and let me know how it goes.




Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seth said...

Hi there Nik,

I think you've come across a great one here! Really "Fully featured" you might also be interested in this strange collection of pron related videos, where you can see how to make each vowel sound, though it's a bit creepy!

Seth :-)

Mariana said...

Great blog! I heard about it in ELTeCS-l Latin America and I really liked your suggestions and ideas.


Tony said...

Thanks for this - terrific resource - am going to integrate into pre-course task for CertTESOL trainees.

Flaws - well inevitably there are some, mostly in the modelling. Most consonants (but not all) are pronounced in isolation with a following schwa vowel, which obscures the voiceless/voiced distinction between e.g. /p/ and /b/ (a problem for, say, Arabic learners). But more importantly: she can't hit the 'cup' vowel properly - she produces a variant on schwa.

But this is nitpicking. As purchased software it would be good - for free it's excellent.

Gladys Baya said...

Great resource! I'm adding it to my class wiki for Methods trainees (and linking to this post of yours too):

Thanks for sharing!