The Sounds of English series (see the list of posts on the right hand menus) has proven to be far more popular than I had ever imagined. Over 50,000 people have read it since it was posted a little over a year ago. It currently averages 1000 unique reads (website tracking terminology that means someone has to purposefully click on the page, stay there for a certain minimum period of time, and then interact with the page by scrolling through it or clicking links within it, and who haven’t visited before — basically it means this many new people look at it and actually read it) every week. However, the project that’s currently posted was never meant to be anything more than a temporary version through which to get the input and advice of people like you. And, to everyone who has been kind enough to comment and email, thank you very much. Your observations and advice have been quite helpful.
Now though, I need to take this project to the next level and put it into a truly interactive format that will be more useful to everyone. Here is what is planned (again from what input I have received from you):
1. Expand to other Languages
This project began as a way to provide ESL instructors with no linguistics background with the tools needed to teach themselves how to teach their students how to produce all the sounds of the English language. Most people who use the site however, aren’t reading it for this reason. Instead we will be expanding the project into an introductory phonetics / phonology course that is still centered upon English but also will include sounds from other languages representing the standard IPA (International Phonetics Alphabet).
2. Introduce and Discuss the Basics
As mentioned above, the second version of this project will be an introductory course in Phonetics and Phonology. As such it will include definitions and descriptions of the various concepts and terminology of these subfields of linguistics presented in the same manner as the current project. By this, I mean that the information will be covered simply and clearly so that anyone with no linguistics background can understand the lessons, but also things will be discussed thoroughly and in enough depth that even seasoned language professionals can use it as a reference or refresher. All writing however shall be kept, clear, simple, and concise and I will avoid complex terminology, theories, and formulae as much as possible as my goal is that the reader can easily use and understand this resource rather than filling page after page with “big words”.
3. A New Format
The new project will be available in three connected forms: an e-book in .pdf format that looks and feels very much like a traditional textbook but with hyperlinks throughout the text that allow access to all the interactive features through a web browser; a new stand alone website that is fully interactive and easily searchable that has all of the features of the current project (and more) but puts everything on the same pages so that there is no need to click separate links or go to other sites for demonstration videos or animations or examples; and finally, a smart phone app (iPhone/iPod/iPad, and Android) meant to coordinate with the main site/ebook allowing a quick-access tool for use in the classroom or on the go. It will include a searchable IPA, a phonetics/phonology dictionary, the ability to look up individual sounds/symbols and see the description of them, the instructions for producing them, the interactive animations and videos, and to hear examples, etc. There will also be the ability to link back to the appropriate part of the website (via your phone’s browser) or to pull up the appropriate page in the ebook (as a pdf document), to find outside resources such as articles and journals, and a series of tools such as phonetic / phonemic transcription tools, and a mini-phonetic/phonological encyclopedia of world languages. These features would be available through the main site as well.
Now, here’s the thing, I need your help!
I have given myself a tentative deadline of two months to have the “test version” of this second rendition written and operational. However in accomplishing this, I will need some assistance. I can handle the linguistic side of things (although I always welcome advice and criticism from others in this area as well). But, what you see on WordPress here is pretty much the extent of my Website development skills. If anyone would like to help me put this project together in a web format, I would really appreciate the help. Finally, I know NOTHING about programming for iPhone and Android. If anyone is an app developer and wants to assist in developing this app, please contact me!
So everyone, please add your comments to this thread, and email me directly if you’d like: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading,