Revision as of 01:38, 3 April 2008 by Huttarl (talk | contribs) (Features: added idea about building a mapping from orthography to IPA symbols)
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Basic idea

A phonetics toy, allowing children basic exposure to sounds of the world's languages, via the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA - [[1]]).

The IPA symbols are displayed; user can click on a symbol and hear it pronounced.


  • sounds are organized into rows (e.g. nasals) and columns (e.g. bilabials) and other categories
  • hover mouse over a symbol to see its full name
  • click on a symbol to hear it pronounced (in context?)
  • double-click a symbol to add it to your "tray" at the bottom of the screen
  • click a "play" button next to the tray to play the sounds of the tray in sequence
  • save your tray contents to the journal, tagged as "phonetic words" or something. Tagged as "words", "phonetic"

Future Directions

  • could integrate to word list building, dictionary building, etc.
  • special project: give kids a structure to build a mapping from their writing system to IPA symbols. Then they push the 'play' button for letters -> IPA -> audio transformation: instant feedback. (Idea from Paul Zwierzynski)
    • This should have the advantage (compared to Speech / espeak) that it can be customized to minority languages by mother-tongue speakers of those languages.

Design / Development Challenges

  • There is far more information that *could* be displayed than will fit on the screen.
    • Scroll it? OK, if necessary.
    • Display the broadest categories only, and drill down to get to the symbols? Not great for exploring.
    • Display only most common symbols on main page, and drill down for less-common symbols?
  • Finding reliable quality, copyright-unencumbered sound recordings
    • Wikipedia seems to provide recordings in GNU Free Doc License; is the quality good, across the board?
  • What does sharing mean in this activity?

Development approach

  • Copy an existing activity like TamTamMini to make a grid of symbols linked to sounds
  • Set up a few (half a dozen) sounds with symbols, names, sounds, grid layout. Start with consonants. Then vowels. Maybe never diacritics & suprasegmentals (until Graphite is ported to the XO?).
  • User testing with children
  • Fill in the gaps
  • Release early and often (as soon as presentable): don't get bogged down in comprehensiveness, complexity and advanced features
  • Explore sharing ... share the tray?
    • Go see what sharing looks like in other, similar activities. How do you avoid fighting over navigation control? First one in gets control?