The German Phonetic Alphabet was prepared by Cal. Polys (San Luis Obispo) English Dept. and Kennedy library multi-media staff. It is part of their International Phonetic Alphabet Program (IPAP), a database of the phonetic alphabets of English, French, German and Spanish. It contains the phoneticians standard charts. Users simply click on a consonant, vowel or diphthong to hear it pronounced in isolation and within a word. A sound graphic is also available.
Type of Material:
A number of charts (organized by vowels, consonants, diphthongs, etc.) whose headings and entries are linked either to a glossary of phonetics-related definitions, to an animated .jpg of places of articulation, or to .wav files of the respective sound both isolated and in the context of a word. Spectographs of the sound in both contexts are also provided.
Advanced undergraduate students of German interested in phonetics and phonology and students of general linguistics, phonetics/phonology or English linguistics can use the materials for self-study, practice and comparison.
Web browser, .wav-capable media player (RealPlayer is recommended on the site).
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Site can be used to practice both recognition and reproduction of the sounds of spoken German. The site contains a tutorial explaining basic phonetic terminology such as voiced/voiceless, place and manner of articulation. Students can use the charts to listen and repeat (though not prompted to do so) to improve their pronunciation.
Target Student Population:
Advanced undergraduates in a course on German linguistics, general linguistics or phonetics and phonology. Self-study of the sounds of German is also possible.
The site claims to be aimed at "users interested in learning more about German phonetics." The exclusive use of German in the charts to describe phonetic features may make the site intimidating for absolute beginners.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No absolute prerequisites but to benefit maximally from the material, users should be taking/have taken a course in phonetics and phonology.
The site is simple and easy to use, and does what it claims to do: offer an organized description of German phonemes. The site contains extensive explanatory material for all linguistic terms. Students taking a first course in phonetics and phonology will have easy access to an extensive glossary of terms. However, sounds do not appear to be produced by native speakers. In addition, the user must constantly click to move between the main page and individual pages linked to it.
Only one example word is given for each phoneme, and there's no real interactivity or self-correction involved. The constant clicking may frustrate today's millenial student; inabilty to move from one language to another will frustrate linguistics students.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
For students who are curious about the phonetic system, or who need extra help with recognizing some of the sounds, the site is definitely of some use. It is excellent for students of linguistics who wish to compare the sounds of German with other languages. It is useful also to acclimate advanced undergraduates to phonological charts and the subfields of linguistics. Graphics will certainly heighten interest in phonetics.
German students may be confused by the chart labels, which should be in both English and German.
There isn't really either enough material, or enough done with the material, to make the content engaging for any great period of time.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is clearly and functionally laid out, and easy to navigate thanks to a persistent side menu. The simple design has a certain elegance, though "aesthetically pleasing" would be an overstatement. There is a brief, clear tutorial to explain the workings of the site.
Manueverability is a problem. The user must constantly click back and forth between the chart on the main page, the individual sound, first in isolation, then within a word and then to the graphic. An anchor on one page per sound to allow the user to skip or scroll down to sections of page would be more effective. Labels on charts are mostly in German, with 'places of articulation' in English. All labels need to be bilingual.
Other Issues and Comments:
The tutorial page is listed as describing the "English Phonetic Alphabet"; obviously, it was pasted in from elsewhere without being altered to fit its new context.
The glossary is also English-only; the German chart headings (e.g., "Reibelaute") link directly to individual glossary entries (e.g., "fricative"). However, the link doesn't always jump to the corresponding English word (both "Verschlusslaute" and "Nasale" link to "nasals," for instance, though the former is a "stop"), which is going to cause confusion.
Some of the pages for individual phonemes are lacking either a live link to the phoneme within a word or the graphics for the spectrographs.
As the site doesn't seem to have been updated since 2000, it's unlikely that any further work will be done on it.
Search by ISBN?
It looks like you have entered an ISBN number. Would you like to search using what you have
entered as an ISBN number?
Searching for Members?
You entered an email address. Would you like to search for members? Click Yes to continue. If no, materials will be displayed first. You can refine your search with the options on the left of the results page.