A World Wide Web Pronunciation Directory

Peter Miliano

Even if one accepts that pronunciation can be taught (Wong, 1985), and that both segmental (Mendelson-Burns, 1987) and suprasegmental (Wong, 1987; Celce-Murcia, 1987) aspects of pronunciation should be taught, pedagogical questions remain. What is the role of the teacher? What are the best tools to teach pronunciation? How much time should be spent on pronunciation? How can learners be motivated to study, especially in a homogeneous EFL environment when their teacher isn't around? Most educators would probably rightly argue that the to best "tool" is a conscientious teacher and then would either create their own exercises or use commercially produced texts, tapes or software into their classroom or language/computer lab. Relatively recently, however, another Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) pronunciation tool has become available, the World Wide Web (Web or WWW). While even as late as 1994 the Internet transmitted mostly text (Seiter, 1994), the World Wide Web now provides a great deal of hypertext, text which can be linked to sound, graphics and even video. It will someday become an extremely useful pronunciation teaching tool.

Unfortunately, a search of the Internet suggests that that day is not yet here. The Internet TESL Journal lists 1,695 links to Web sites of interest to students and 1,490 for ESL teachers. Of these, only 41 sites (1.2%) deal with pronunciation, and 35 of these sites are tongue twisters. Continued searching led to more sites, but the results above were representative. Most sites on the web deal with the Reading and Listening. This does not mean the Web has no use in the pronunciation classroom, however. Gilbert (1987) in particular argues that pronunciation and listening are directly related. Even reading becomes more closely related to listening and pronunciation when the learner has access to hypertexts where they might be able simply click to hear words and phrases from a text or even the entire text. It does mean, however, that Web has not reached its full potential as a medium for pronunciation instruction.

Learners will need a new computer with a very fast central processing unit (CPU), a fast modem, and an assortment of (often free) audio/video applications to best be able use the Internet to improve their pronunciation. They also need patience; even with good hardware and software, sound and video can be very slow downloads. Some learners might be motivated to try to use the Web to improve their pronunciation and others might be more reluctant. Despite this, all are likely to give up on the technology if it offers nothing new and takes more time, trouble and expense to use than more proven technologies such as teachers, texts and tapes.

The main goal of this directory is to inform people already somewhat comfortable with the medium what interesting and potentially useful pronunciation resources currently exist for learners on the Web. Because new sites are being created everyday and old sites disappearing, however, no Web directory can ever be considered complete; like the Web itself this directory is a work in progress. The sites reviewed below include some of the most popular sites and a representative sample of other sites so teachers may get a sense of the tools available to help their learners. It will point out some strengths and weaknesses of each site. The conclusion will address when the Web might prove a more useful tool for helping learners improve their pronunciation and suggest a way to empower learners to use the Web to improve their pronunciation. Web sites seldom follow APA style guidelines and a reference list would be redundant so the web sites that follow are listed in alphabetical order according to the title of the page and authors are listed as available. Please note that web addresses never contain spaces.

American Relaxed Pronunciation Learning 

This site lacks sound, but it uses text to emphasize the reduction and linking of sounds in General American English. It uses a sound-spelling correspondence system rather than the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to transcribe a number of common American phrases. While this site is free, it does have "commercials" which pop up in front of the page and learners might become annoyed reading the advertisements and quickly leave.

Cutting edge CALL demos (Jim Duber)

Uses multimedia technology to stream sound and video to learners. Many minimal pair discrimination exercises where listeners listen to a sentence then click on a picture/sentence combination representing the sentence they heard, e.g. "Is this door/store open?" and sends results to students after ten and twenty answers. Also has a similar exercise interactive video in which a student visiting a friend's apartment responds to her host's requests for various objects. It's fun, but it requires a fast processor and modem otherwise the learner might grow impatient waiting for the video to download.

Diphthong Calculator (Steve Chadwick) 

Allows learners not only to click on phonetic symbols to hear the vowel sounds and to combine two vowels into a diphthong. When learners try forming a diphthong that doesn't exist, they hear a puzzled "Huh?" Fun for a short time, but the novelty quickly wears off.

The English Alphabet (Anthony Hughes)

One page that is part of a justifiably popular on-line English grammar text, this page simply recites the alphabet.

English Learning Funsite: Mouth Workout (Adam Rado)

A page on a commercial site with a few free tongue twisters. Learners can click on a phrases in the twister to listen and practice difficult consonants, but the $5/month to access the full site might discourage many and the sound was a very slow download.

Foreign Languages for Travelers 

A web-based multilingual phrase book with sound. Learners select their L1 and L2, select from a category with specific notions or functions and click on a work or phrase to hear it pronounced. Visitors may also take a writing quiz that the site scores. While this site is commercial, the services above are free and the ads are unobtrusive.


A site primarily designed to promote a publishers audio/video tapes and texts, it does provide some sample audio tracks for free download.

KayLynn's Pronunciation Lessons

"Demonstration Unit..." Computer Requirements:

A chapter of an on-line pronunciation text, written apparently as a project for graduate school, it explains stops and continuants then has two minimal pair listening games.


Learning Oral English Online (Rong-Chang Li)

Promoted as an on-line conversation book, it provides a textual explanation of a notion or function then a model dialogue. Learners can click to listen to individual lines or the entire text to practice their pronunciation.

Listening, Speaking & Pronunciation for Internet

While this site promotes itself as a "Free English School On the Net," learners are requested to make $25 donation each one-month session. Pronunciation courses using Internet Telephony and voice mail are said to be offered, but as of two weeks before submitting this paper, I have not yet received information about a class for teachers interested in using the Internet. Caveat emptor!

Integration of Reading, Listening and Speaking Skills

Hypertext reading passages which allow learners to listen to how individual words or, in some cases whole passages, are pronounced.

Impact! Online Home Page

Similar to the above site, but with greater selection of passages. This site is also better than the above as some passages allow learners to listen to the complete passage without the text. Students can also learn the definitions and pronunciations of words not in hypertext as this site is linked to a number of English and/bilingual dictionaries. Unfortunately, none of these links provides sound. They only give the definition textually.

Language Net Sound Pronunciation Chart

A mildly interesting phonemic chart that allows you to click on an IPA symbol to go to a examples of words with the sound in the initial, medial and final positions. Unfortunately, it really suffers from the lack of bells and whistles, i.e. sound.

N.Y. Art Report: Art Works 6- Takahiko Iimura

Short videos produced by a Japanese artist, which use exaggerated facial movements, special effects and sound to teach learners how to produce the Japanese vowels. While they might be slow to download and of little use for learners receptive skills, they are an entertaining example of a project teachers might use to help learners improve their pronunciation.

Okanagan University College's ESL Pronunciation Online Course (Brian Rhodes)

Text, Sammy diagrams, sound and QuickTime videos to help teach how to produce a number of phonemes. The cuts from live speakers to animated Sammy diagrams are cute, but one wonders if they really any more useful than some combination of text/tape/video, or better yet, live teacher. They are an extremely long download. Minimal pair listening exercises, audio tongue twisters, and dictation exercises are also available and faster to access. The site was updated July 1 of this year and the creators imply that more phonemes will be added regularly. However, since the site also serves to subtly advertise a pronunciation application available on CD-ROM for only $35 US with identical exercises, one wonders how quickly new free phonemes will be added.

Online Pronunciation for Foreign Born Professionals 

Online pronunciation tutorials designed to complement commercial textbook/videotapes videotape course. Not necessarily web-based pronunciation course, because after practicing course exercises, learners may submit assignments via voice mail either over the Internet or by regular telephone. This site is referred to in several other sites' links, however, so it seems to have its fans. One reason might be that it combines technology with an actual teacher who will evaluate and comment on student pronunciation.

Phonetic Symbols and Exercises for learners of American English (R. Kumar)

Contains unique three-dimensional diagrams showing the surface of the tongue during the pronunciation of the English phones, but this site is more for graduate students and teachers of pronunciation than learners, unless the learners are very advanced. The site also contains some sound files demonstrating word stress, which would be of more use to most ESL learners.


An excellent site with sound that teaches students both segmentals and suprasegmentals.


In addition to a number of exercises and useful links, this site also seems to emphasize more metacognitive aspects of pronunciation with an online needs analysis and an essay on the importance of good pronunciation.

Pronunciation Symbols for Merriam-Webster's Vocabulary Builder

While referred to by several sites, this site is simply a chart using Websterian pronunciation symbols and sample words without sound and therefore having no advantages over text.

Resources for Studying Human Speech (George Dillon)

Primarily for graduate students of phonology, this site contains links to a number of sites dealing with the phonemes of both GAE and RP, including the two below with clickable sound which were also created by Dillon.

Consonant Phonemes

The Distinctive Vowel Sounds of British and American English

Sounds English: Macintosh Shareware for English Language Learners and Teachers - Pronunciation (Geoff Taylor)

A site where learners could download freeware/shareware providing alphabet, phoneme, vowel and minimal pair exercises. Just days before the submission of this report, however, the following message appeared when I tried to access the site:

"HTTP Error 404

404 Not Found

The Web server cannot find the file or script you asked for. Please check the URL to ensure that the path is correct."

Even the infrequent Web surfer probably knows this message means that the site may no longer exist at this time. I leave this entry in the directory as a warning of one of the weaknesses of the Web, because such sites sometimes return, and because the applications are still available from other sites.

"Freeware" and "shareware" are misnomers, however, as users are usually expected to send a small fee ($5-20) to encourage the developer to continue writing software. Such fees might discourage some learners from using the applications, however, as might the fact that the applications mentioned above are rather dated and simplistic with black and white graphics and primitive text-to-speech sound.

Sounds of English (Sharon Widmayer)

There are some Sammy diagrams, photographs and sound files to introduce beginners to the pronunciation of GAE vowels and consonants.

Tongue Twisters

Links to the 35 sites of tongue twisters referred to above. While most of the sites lack sound and even pictures, several of them were produced by learners and contain apparently original content. Such a project might be have motivated the learners to practice their own pronunciation as they created material for others.

Webfolio: Teaching Pronunciation (Allen Quesada)

Recently created as a pronunciation course assignment, this is one of the best pronunciation sites on the WWW. It has RealAudio sound to help, intermediate learners, a neglected audience on the Web, with both segmental and suprasegmentals (stress, intonation and connected speech).

A Word A Day 

While this is primarily a vocabulary site, this organization's Web page does provide the pronunciation of its daily word, textually and aurally, along with the definition and sample sentence. This might be a popular site because on several occasions it was difficult to access. A Uniform Resource Locator or URL (http://www...) is like a telephone number, and sometimes the line can be busy.


With busy signals, slow downloads and less than perfect sound quality, and few opportunities for feedback, should learners use the World Wide Web at all study pronunciation? My answer is a qualified yes. The technology is improving. Computers and modems are getting faster and fiber optic networks will increase speeds and improve sound quality. Teachers and learners should begin to become familiar with the technology now. The most useful aspect of the Web is not the technology, though. It's the creativity it can foster in teachers and students. To me, the most impressive sites above did not necessarily demonstrate the most futuristic technology. They demonstrated the most concern and creativity by today's classroom teachers, graduate students and, in a few cases, language learners. The same factors that might lead to pronunciation improvement in the classroom should also lead to success on the information superhighway.


  • Celce-Murcia, M. (1987). Teaching pronunciation as communication. In J. Morley (Ed.). Current perspectives on pronunciation: Practices anchored in theory. (p. 1-13). Washington, DC: TESOL.
  • Gilbert, J. (1987). Pronunciation and listening comprehension. In J. Morley (Ed.). Current perspectives on pronunciation: Practices anchored in theory. (p. 29-40). Washington, DC: TESOL.
  • Mendelson-Burns, I. (1987). Teaching pronunciation through listening. TESL Talk, 17, 125-131.
  • Seiter, C. (1994). The Internet for macs for dummies. San Mateo, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.
  • TESL/TEFL/TESOL/ESL/EFL/ESOL Links of Interest to Students & Teachers of English as a Second Language (1998). The Internet TESL Journal [Available On-line]. http://www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/ESL3.html 
  • Wong, R. (1985). Does pronunciation teaching have a place in the communicative classroom? In J. E. Alatis and D. Tannen (Eds.). Language and linguistics: The interdependence of theory, data, and application. Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics, 226-234.
  • Wong, R. (1987) Teaching pronunciation: Focus on English rhythm and intonation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.