A Pron Chart Zoo

I have joined the EVO 2015 session on pronunciation called Teaching Pronunciation Differently. It has started off very well, learning loads, for example the existence of weak vowel cousins of the schwa, the schwi and the schwu. By chance around the same time Mark Hancock released his version of a vowel chart made up of hexagons:

Mark's Vowel Chart
Mark’s Vowel Chart

I thought this was pretty neat and hacked up a web version.

Most teachers will be aware of Adrian Underhill’s chart:

Adrian Underhill’s Phonemic Chart

and some people will have seen the IPA chart:

IPA Chart

There is also the AHEPS vowel clock which is based on haptic movement and touch:

AHEPS Vowel Clock

There is the PronSci Rectangle chart based on articulation:

The PronSci Rectangle Chart

The Kinephones chart which has examples of use in sentences (h/t @HancockMcDonald):

The Kinephones Chart
The Kinephones Chart

A chart using phrases not words:

ELTmakers Chart
ELTmakers Chart

And finally (there may well be others please let me know in comments) there is the vowel space chart based on frequency patterns (h/t @ELTMAKERS) :

Vowel Space Chart

I hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of the pron chart zoo.

Update 1:

An interesting chart showing possible consonants that would be amenable to lip reading:

Why lipreading is hard, linguistically speaking

Update 2:

A tactile version of Adrien Underhill’s chart made of plasticine:

Tactile version Underhill chart

Update 3:

Scott Thornbury wanted a chart for his US students so he made one (h/t EVO15 Teaching Pronunication Differently):

Thornbury, US Eng
Scott Thornbury General American English chart

Another US English chart called Color Vowel chart (h/t bzznora):

Color vowel chart

Update 4:

Neat chart with sound recording at very slow speed, flat tone, falling tone and in context word (h/t Alena B):

Dipthong-Triphthong chart


A supra-segmentals chart:

Supra-segmentals chart


6 thoughts on “A Pron Chart Zoo

  1. I like AIden’s vowel chart (American English) the most and typically use it with my students. I like it because it is simple and is laid out to represent the locations in the mount (frontedness and high to low). Also, it is part of the “Sounds” app for training IPA. However, seeing the Color Chart mentioned by Bzznora (http://colorvowelchart.org/index.php/empty-menu/2-sub/76-glancechart), I think I may give this a try.

    I don’t really like the Hancock one as it doesn’t seem to be organized in terms of mouth shape, its British-centric, and it was described as long/short sounds when vowel length has nothing to do with vowel quality. They seem to be tense and lax pairs, and that’s a good organization scheme, but maybe until I see an American English verb, I won’t be able to appreciate it. Great work on the hack, though!

    1. hi Anthony,


      you have a point about articulation clarity in the hexagon chart. i am less inclined to place emphasis on any charts now (from doing the EVO15 course) due to the importance of veering students away from a listen and repeat approach, which charts rely on, to an articulatory approach where students get sensitised to their stomach muscles (which produce the air for sounds), tongue position, mouth shape etc.


      1. Can you give a little more info about the articulatory approach? I can’t imagine classroom applications for stomach muscle training!

        I do like the idea of thinking about articulation more, but listen and repeat has its place, I think, because listening discrimination is an important first step before sound production. I like the U. Iowa animations, but when I use them in class, they are never as illustrative as I hope they would be. Do you have any resources?

      2. hehe well it is really effective, try saying a sentence in normal voice, then whisper it, then stage whisper it (i.e. as if you were trying to whisper it to someone a short distance away)

        you can really feel how the stomach muscles are used for the stressed syllables, something we learnt as kids but is so automatic when we speak in normal voice we don’t feel it anymore

        yes listen and repeat has a place, the argument is that the emphasis on this way has led to poor results since once you take away the model students will have no support whereas with the articulatory approach students have actually learned to make the sounds themselves with no model

        have you seen the ultrasound ones imposed over video of faces? http://enunciate.arts.ubc.ca/linguistics/introduction/ pretty pretty cool


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