Sometimes when you are learning a language that has a different writing system, making sure that your pronunciation is correct can be a challenge. Another daunting part about learning a new language can be sounds that don’t exist in your native language. It can be difficult to know if you are correctly making these new sounds. This is where the International Phonetic Alphabet comes in.

What is IPA?

The International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA is a constructed alphabet made with the intention to be able to represent any and all sounds. The IPA is made a multinational committee and is at least an attempt at maintaining a standardized system of phonetic spelling that can be used for any language.

Here is an example of the IPA spelling the word hello: həˈloʊ

And here is the sentence, My name is …: maɪ neɪm ɪz…

For any language, the IPA tries to be a standardized system of phonetic spelling. This is especially helpful for people who are learning languages with new writing systems.

How I use IPA

I use the IPA for difficult pronunciations and to check myself. For me, the best uses of the IPA are to check your accuracy, especially with new sounds, and check difficult words.


Even in language learning, value for money is a big deal. One of my favorite parts of the IPA is that it can be accessed for free over the internet.

I hope and would encourage anyone who makes language learning content to include the IPA more in courses.


IPA Main website:

IPA chart downloads:

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