In Defense of the Usefulness of a Polish-Based Respelling Phonetic Transcription System in the Elementary to Lower-Intermediate EFL Classroom

  • Łukasz FurtakEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Despite its common usage in dictionaries and travel phrase-books, the application of sequences of first-language (here: Polish) letters in order to capture an approximate pronunciation of words in the target language (here: English) (e.g., water [‘łote], six [‘syks], foreign [‘foryn], computer [kym’pjute]) appears not to have been considered a noteworthy pedagogical tool by researchers dealing with teaching EFL phonetics (Cymbalista & Kleparski, 2002). What is more, Sobkowiak (1997) appears to constitute one of the few available comprehensive discussions of the aforementioned technique. The method seems to suffer from a number of major application-related disadvantages ranging from a somewhat aesthetic matter (to a number of teachers it does not make an impression of being sufficiently scientifically-grounded) to theoretical considerations connected with the undeniable arbitrariness of the choice of symbols and their limited usability in the task of reflecting relevant aspects of English phonetics. On the other hand, one may also notice several elements which render the approach appealing from a rather practical perspective. Firstly, this quasi-phonetic code is adequate for users of EFL materials who, broadly speaking, are not, or do not wish to be familiar with the standard IPA phonetic script (high-school students, employees of international corporations, individuals interested in English for travel, or the elderly, to quote just few). Those EFL learners’ aim is not phonetic precision itself but rather every-day communication (cf. Sobkowiak, 1997). The aim of the paper is to discuss both the drawbacks and merits of the technique introduced above, concentrating on several crucial aspects of its application (aesthetic, logical, practical, methodological, acoustic, facilitative) and highlighting those elements that learners might benefit from. The discussion is supplemented with a brief analysis of selected EFL resources available on the market and the author’s own proposal of a system of letter-based phonetic approximations for usage in the EFL classroom.


Phonetic Transcription Unstressed Syllable Native Tongue Vocalic Segment Phonetic Form 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The State School of Higher Professional Education in SandomierzSandomierzPoland

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