For a brief introduction to Phonology, watch the following video. Please excuse the monotone. We can discuss in class why the monotone is useful for a multi-cultural audience.
Interactive Audio-- IPA Charts
Vowels and Consonants

One use for phonetics: Teaching a non-native speaker or a native speaker with a speech pathology how to use their articulatory system to make native-like English sounds.
image credit:
One use for phonology: training teachers to recognize the sounds of Standard American English so that they, in turn, will be able to recognize, produce and teach Standard American English to their students in the classroom.

We are learning the different sounds of the phonetic alphabet, the International Phonetic Alphabet symbols, that is. Some sounds are harder to hear the difference between, or think of differently because we are used to seeing them as the same spelling and we just KNOW they sound different sometimes. One of these follows:

Excerpted from

A tale of two TH’s

Say “This thistle” a few times. Now, pay very close attention to the TH sounds at the beginning of each word. Put your hand on your Adam’s Apple (or equivalent area on your neck) while you say them.
After a few tries, you’ll notice that, in the words of a friend of mine, the “TH” in “This” is “more buzzy”, or, put more scientifically, voiced. This sound, the TH in “This, That, The, There, Then, Those…”, is called an Eth (pronounced with a voiced, Eth sound). In the [[International Phonetic Alphabet]] (IPA), it has this symbol:


The TH in “thistle”, or “theater, theory, think, thought, throw, through…” is called a Theta, and is Eth’s voiceless counterpart (Theta is to Eth as T is to D). Theta’s IPA symbol is, shockingly, a theta, as shown here:


Aside from voicing, there is no difference between them. The sounds are produced with the tongue in the same position, the tongue is doing the same thing for both, and all the other various phonetic phactors (I couldn’t resist) are the same. The only difference between the the Theta and the Eth is vocal fold vibration, but what a difference it makes.

Cool whip! The funny upside down w, explained. Hear it, hate it, and understand some of the sociolinguistic  tensions between stigmatized and prestigious variations of English phonology.
What does American English sound like to other people? Watch the video above to find out.
Banner credits: