English Phonetics & Phonology

Course Aims

This course will introduce you to the different aspects of the phonetics & phonology of English. Apart from investigating traditional aspects, such as speech production and perception, we will also explore differences between reference accents, such as RP and GenAm, and their relationship with some of the other native and non-native varieties of English around the world. Practical exercises in transcription, etc., will accompany all stages of the course as much as possible, and assessment for the course will be based on a number of these exercises.

Please note that in order to do some of the interactive online exercises, JavaScript has to be enabled in your browser. Due to sometimes considerable differences in the way that different browsers handle dynamic pages (and time constraints in designing this course), some of the pages may only function properly in Mozilla Firefox, although they generally seem to work in Safari and Google Chrome, too..

Since writing a good online course takes a lot of time and effort, as well as constant revision, these pages may be updated throughout the course. If you have any comments or criticisms about the design of the materials or general content, please feel free to send or mention them to me, so that I can keep on developing this course as a valuable on-line resource.

I have recently updated all the pages with transcription exercises so that they now contain embedded versions of my transcription editor. For any other transcription practice, or for creating printable pages for the assignments, you can use the standalone transcription editor, which can be accessed through or downloaded from the Tools & Resources page.

Course Outline

Tools & Resources

List of Symbol Names


Altogether, there will be 3 assignments, worth 20%, 40%, and 40%, respectively. The first one is intended to allow you to practise & employ your transcription skills for isolated word forms in RP. Here, you should prove that you have understood the basic nature of RP in terms of its vowel and consonant realisations, as well as to be able to conduct a systemic transfer from the old-fashioned, traditional symbols you may find in textbooks and conservative dictionaries to the more up-to-date ones I have taught you. After this, we’ll move on to transcribing words in context, based on an imperfect transcription produced by my ‘Grapheme to Phoneme Transcriber & Editor’ program. Here, partial emphasis will again be on using the appropriate symbols for RP I have taught you, but this time you also need to demonstrate your understanding of processes of connected speech and how they would affect the transcription if the original text were read aloud in a natural manner. Finally, the last assignment will allow you to analyse & transcribe a ‘real-life’ example of learner English, as well as to provide me with a discussion of the most important features you have identified during the transcription process.

The colour coding conventions for errors in assignment 2 are as follows:

Recommended reading:

Roach, P. (2009). English Phonetics and Phonology: a Practical Course (2nd ed.). Cambridge: CUP.

Ladefoged, P. & Johnson, K. (2011). A Course in Phonetics (6th ed.). Stamford: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Ashby, M. & Maidment, J. (2005). Introducing Phonetic Science. Cambridge: CUP.

Wells, J. (1982). Accents of English (Vols. 1-3). Cambridge: CUP.

Hughes, A., Trudgill, P. & Watt, D. (2005). English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles (4th ed.). London: Hodder Arnold.

Schneider, E., Burridge, K., Kortmann, B., Mesthrie, R. & Upton, C. (2004). A Handbook of Varieties of English. Vol. 1. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.