Phonetics Spelling Dictionary

A phonetic spelling dictionary is something that anyone can make to aid them in learning how to pronounce the words they want to use. Anyone who's tried to learn a language knows that the way the language is spoken can be, more often than not, extremely different from the way it looks on a page. One way to get around this is by creating phonetic spellings of every new word you learn. There aren't any hard-core rules when it comes to phonetic spellings of English words, but there are easy shortcuts and agreed upon conventions that can be put to use.

Reason to Create a Phonetic Spelling Dictionary

When learning a language as vast and as difficult as English, learning the phonetics of English - the way the word is pronounced - at the same time is incredibly helpful.

Studying the way a language sounds not only helps one's ability to communicate accurately, it also helps one remember the words for several reasons:

  • Sounding out words aids learning because it ties the words to muscle memory. As your mouth moves to sound out a word, your muscles are learning those words as much as your brain is learning the word.
  • Writing down words to sound out becomes a mnemonic device. By writing words over and over again you increase your ability to remember the word.
  • Constantly rereading and pronouncing the word helps you concentrate on pronunciation.

Many people are afraid of using new words because they think that they won't be able to bear the embarrassment of mispronouncing something. Almost everyone has encountered the discomfort of having one's pronunciation corrected.

By writing down the pronunciation in your own phonetic spelling dictionary, your risk of mispronounciation drops considerably, and your confidence might rise as a consequence.

Developing Your Phonetic Spelling Dictionary

You can start out with some easy words and work your way into harder ones as you continue to amass a huge lexicon of phonetic mastery.

Here are a few tips on developing your phonetic spelling dictionary:

  • Start with words you already know. This will allow you come up with your own phonetic spellings. "Dog - Dahg" would be a very simple entry. Notice how "ah" makes the long "a" sound. Another example of a phonetic spelling would be "facade - fuh-sahd."
  • You can use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or the Americanist Phonetic Notation systems, but it isn't necessary to learn a bunch of new symbols to learn the way a language is used.
  • Since you're learning English words, you should probably use spellings that make sense in English. If you were learning Farsi or German, you would use their phonetic spellings.
  • By working in the language you want to learn, you are building spelling skills. Many words in English are spelled more or less phonetically already, and learning how letters work together in the language proves invaluable as you advance.

By developing and using your custom phonetics dictionary, you will gain confidence in pronunciation and increase your comfort level enough to go out into the real world and put your growing vocabulary to use.

Online Phonetic Spelling Dictionaries

If you don't want to create your own custom dictionary, there are phonetic English dictionaries available online. Here are a few:

  • Phonetic Dictionary - a free online, phonetic search engine that can be downloaded.
  • Little Explorers Picture Dictionary - This picture-based dictionary by Enchanted Learning lets the reader enter the sound of the first letter of the word and see a variety of words and pictures.

Using the IPA for Phonetic Transcription

Some people choose to master the IPA. It's a valuable tool when you're studying linguistics or you want to show off to your friends. Some dictionary websites use it to describe how to pronounce their entries. For most, though, the IPA is just too much information.

Unless you're going to be a bona-fide linguist, there's really no need to have more than a passive knowledge of the IPA. It's easy enough to figure out, but the phonetic chart can be fairly off-putting, and there's just no reason to let anything get in your way of learning how to pronounce a language properly.

That said, a great deal of folks feel the need to stick to a tried and true set of rules when it comes to casual phonetics. If you are one of those people, the IPA may be the best way for you to develop your phonetic dictionary.

For the purposes of your own phonetic dictionary, just make sure you're having a good time. Writing "facade" as "fuh-sahd" is good enough, but if you like using the symbols of the IPA, go for it. Do whatever meets your particular learning needs.

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