IPA Decode!

IPA Decode is a great game to play with the class which helps them understand and use the IPA or International Phonetic Alphabet.

It can be used with a reasonably proficient class who are familiar with the IPA already and who would benefit from a little more practice.


Firstly take a text of an appropriate level to the class and transcribe it into the IPA.

If this sounds like hard work, then you can use PhoTransEdit‏‎ which is piece of free software which will do this automatically. Simply put in your text and it is automatically transcribed; check it and then print it.

Note that if you do this exercise using a word processor, you may need to use a font which supports IPA characters; see the IPA article for more on this.
If the students don’t already have copies of the IPA, make sure to print out enough for the class also.

Before beginning, you may like to have a short revision with the class of the IPA.

Get the class into small groups and make sure they have access to the IPA. Then give them your IPA transcribed text. Quite simply they have to “decode” or convert it back into standard English.





The image shows the opening sentences of George Orwell’s 1984 and Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy converted to the IPA using PhoTransEdit – notice how one word has not been transcribed.

Note that in this case, there is no capitalization or punctuation in the text. Once the students have completed converting the text, they should then add these two elements in to make a completed text.

Posted in Language Skills, Lesson Plans & Activities, Technology & TEFL.