The Effectiveness of Using IPA in Early English Phonetic Education to Japanese Preschoolers

Michelle Ma Ka Wah


This study examines the effectiveness of using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as a teaching tool in improving the English vowels produced by the Japanese preschoolers aged 4 and 5. Based on the assessments on vowel production of the same target groups in the previous study in Ma (2016), 10 lessons were given in attempt to address their common weakness at pronouncing English back vowels including /u:/, /ʊ/, /ɔ:/, and /ɒ/ in monosyllabic words. IPA is used to teach pronunciation in the experimental group, whereas the children of a control group are given the common teaching practice by using spelling. Individual pronunciation performances are collected before and after the education program is given. An acoustic analysis is conducted by SUGI Speech Analyzer to measure the learners’ formant frequencies and plot the vowel spaces. After that, the native children’s data collected by Hillenbrand et al was employed as a standard to compare changes in vowel quality between the two groups. The results show the improvements of back vowels in the majority of IPA group, while the decent changes in the spelling group are relatively minimal.


 DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2016-21

Cite as: Wah, M.M.K. (2016) The Effectiveness of Using IPA in Early English Phonetic Education to Japanese Preschoolers. Proc. ISAPh 2016 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics, 107-112, DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2016-21.


@inproceedings{Wah2016,
  author={Michelle Ma Ka Wah},
  title={The Effectiveness of Using IPA in Early English Phonetic Education to Japanese Preschoolers},
  year=2016,
  booktitle={Proc. ISAPh 2016 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics},
  pages={107--112},
  doi={10.21437/ISAPh.2016-21},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/ISAPh.2016-21}
}