This one is for the SLPs who may be reading this. I recently discovered a website which allows me to type IPA symbols and then paste them into my reports and therapy documentation. I’ve been wanting to be able to do this since I started working in schools! We have all of our computer-based fill-in-the-blank paperwork to complete on each student, and until now I’ve been using /sh/ instead of /ʃ/!

Click here for the website

For the non-speechie-nerds, here’s the deal. When we work on speech sounds with students, SLPs typically use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to write down the symbol for whatever sound we’re discussing. This prevents confusion about different sounds (for example, the “g” sound can be hard, like in “gorilla”, or soft, like in “George”). We need our reports to be precise, so we use the standardized IPA symbols. This prevents confusion, and everyone who is familiar with the IPA symbols knows exactly what we’re talking about. Many of the IPA symbols are letters we have in English (for example, /k/ = the ‘K’ sound), but a few of them are symbols (like /ŋ/ = the ‘ng’ sound). We still have to translate the weird symbols for non-SLPs, but that’s better than wondering which sound is being discussed.

The only tricky part of this whole system is using it with computers. My computer keyboard doesn’t have any of the special characters. I’ve been spelling out the sounds for the past 5 years, but NOW! I can use the real symbols!

Here’s a run-down of the most common IPA symbols for English consonants:

“sh”, like shoe /ʃ/
“ch”, like chicken /tʃ/
“dj”, like jelly beans /dʒ/
voiced “sh”, like measure, beige /ʒ/
unvoiced “th”, like think /θ/
voiced “th”, like this /ð/
‘ng’, like ring /ŋ/