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Shouldn't Duolingo use a method to actually show precise pronunciation? e.g. IPA

Hello everyone, This had -probably- been asked before, but for many languages, it is very hard to even notice the consonants/vowels that is alien from somebody's native language. Wouldn't using a more standard-ish method to show exact pronunciation like IPA solve it? And did Duolingo say anything yet about this issue?

January 14, 2018



I’m not sure what the staff would say about it but really only linguists regularly use IPA and most languages have highly phonetic spelling, so once you understand how to make the sounds, it should be easier to speak the language. I’d say they could definitely benefit from more and clearer audio in most of the courses.


Some courses (such as Korean) use IPA in the Tips and Notes. If any Caucasian languages were covered on here IPA would be a must.


I think it could be confusing for some people, but I would definitely like to have this option available (and it could also help those who can’t listen). However, I guess that, for most people, if you know the IPA well enough you can also write it for yourself, and if you don’t know it, then it might not be useful for you.


Probably not even 1% of all students are able to read IPA. (if even 0.1%) There often is more than 1 correct way of pronouncing words and additionally it's likely an inefficient way of learning pronunciations.


You could listen to the sentences during practicing. e.g. when you are asked to translate the following text you could listen to the text by clicking the speaker.


Nice to have, but ideas are cheap.

Each natural language has 4 basic operations:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Ad 'Listening': If IPA would be available for each natural language then knowing the precise way to speak the words would be much moved forward.

See also:

How to possibly improve pronunciation? (using IPA) https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25814624


There are problems with the IPA, they used it in the English department at the University I attended in France (20y ago) and all the students sounded like 1940s BBC announcers, a bit ridiculous. They soon lost that when they immersed themselves in movies, TV, music, travel etc. But it's still quite common for the more academically minded English learners to speak like that.

IMHO, IPA is at its most useful for obscure words that do not follow the normal pronunciation rules.


Possibly, but then they'd need to make people go through an IPA course first, because generally only linguists and some hardcore polyglots know IPA. It's not commonly known among most people & Duolingo is built to be accessible to people who haven't learned a foreign language before.


There's a bit of IPA in the Greek course Tips and Notes.

I think it would be good to provide some more phonetic details. IPA-type information can be presented very simply. You don't need to understand "close back unrounded vowel" or the symbol /ɯ/ to understand "it's a vowel like the English 'u' but with your lips not rounded" or "it's pronounced like the English 't' but with the tongue touching the front teeth."

A lot of things that would be useful for more natural pronunciation wouldn't show up in broad transcription, anyway. Better for many things to just put in in words.

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