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Phonetic Transcription – A Shortcut to Better Pronunciation
Maybe you have heard the story about a foreign student coming to the UK to study law. At passport control, an airport employee asks him about the purpose of his visit. The student answers: "To study love." That's how he thought "law" is pronounced in English. :) This story is a perfect example of why pronunciation practice is so important when learning a language.
Such misunderstandings can happen when people learn a foreign language the wrong way. The student's folly is a very common mistake for new language learners – trying to pronounce words the way you spell them. As far as we know, there are no languages where all words are pronounced exactly as they are spelled. If you think that your native language is an exception, check Wikipedia's article about its phonology.
So, how can you avoid this mistake when learning to speak a different language?
When you start learning a foreign language, the first step is to learn how to pronounce the sounds and words in the language. Of course, you can (and should!) use audio or video recordings to learn pronunciation, but that may not be enough pronunciation practice. Sometimes words are pronounced very quickly, and some words may contain a lot of unfamiliar sounds. This makes it hard to reproduce the correct pronunciation just by listening to the recording. Fortunately, phonetic transcription helps language learners with this problem.
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In some "free" pronunciation dictionaries the audio quality is so poor that you ask yourself: "Was it recorded on a cell phone in a subway? It makes my ears hurt!"
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Available languages: American English, British English, French, Mexican Spanish, Chinese, Russian
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Do you need to find a word by phonetic transcription?
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