About Phonetic English ESL


Alphabets were brought into being in ancient times. Around 3200 years ago, the Hebrew, Arabic, Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations each developed an alphabetic system of its own. These original alphabets were used to communicate the spoken sounds of Arabic, Ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin to people who were at any distance beyond reach of human voices. All of these alphabets are still in use today.

Phonetic English Bible is based on Virtual Phonetics, a very simple learner alphabet for any person who is learning to read English words at home, in early schooling or even later as an adult worker. As we have seen in this trial version manual and student text book, Virtual Phonetics can remove most of the difficulties that many students experience so uniquely with the English alphabetic system.

In essence, the English alphabet is the one that the Romans used for their Latin language some three thousand years ago. Most European languages today also use the Roman alphabet with slight variations from language to language. Languages in South East Asia, Polynesia and elsewhere in the world too, use modified versions of the Roman alphabet.

The Hebrew alphabetic system incorporated the only ancient alphabetic marking system that was specifically designed for learners in their beginning stages.

Remarkably too, this method for the early teaching of Hebrew reading and spelling skills, still exists today and is still used in Jewish schools and university departments throughout the world. It is appropriate to be assured. At its heart, the early teaching concept behind Virtual Phonetics has been trialled for over a millennium and is still proving its educational effectiveness with millions daily.

In short. Virtual Phonetics does for English words what the vocalization signs do for students of beginning Hebrew writing.

From the time of Moses, Hebrew words for adults who were already skilled readers were written with all except 2* of their 13 vowel letters simply not represented. Hebrew was originally written only for persons who spoke Hebrew, and all of its vowel letters were not strictly necessary once the readers had become skilled. When English words are written in a similar manner we, as competent native-to-English readers, are still able to read them as follows:

Fr-m th- t-m- -f M-s-s, H-br-w w-rds h-v- b—n wr-tt-n w-th -ll -xc-pt tw- -f th- v-w-l s—nds -f sp-k-n H-br-ws-mply n-t p-t d-wn.
* roughly the equivalent of the English letters “A” and “I”

English too, just like Hebrew, needs all of its vowel letters only for those readers for who are beginning to learn the discipline of alphabetic decoding. But whenever we write English words there are no short cuts at all: we need to know the precise position of every letter in every word or we get it wrong.

From a technical standpoint, the marking signs around the letters of Virtual Phonetics, like the vocalization signs around Hebrew letters, are often called diacritical marks. Diacritical marks have been linked to most European languages for centuries. Students of French for example, are introduced to the ‘accenting’ marks around French words in the earliest lessons. Such markings on the letters show students how the pronunciations of these letters change from word to word.

From the mid 1960’s onward, a few commercially produced English language systems for the teaching of early reading to school children also used publications with diacritical marks.

With the notable exception of the DISTAR materials, few of these programs have endured the test of time. The structure of English spelling is relentless. It cannot be changed because there are far too many people in the world whose spelling habits in English would need to be changed too.

The true purpose of any diacritical marking system for English is to convey the impression that our spelling is really a lot more forgivable than it is.

This amounts to a benevolent form of deception. I am quite blunt about this because I respect accusation of false academy. But I have a teaching job to do, and this job is mainly to help learners of written English to get to grips with at least the sensible bits that go together to make English words. The teaching aspiration here is, that once any student gets to master all of the sensible spelling bits, then all of the later spelling ‘idiosyncrasies’ will be easier to cope with.

As a retired teacher as well as a disciplined analyst of the English spelling system, I have had to make a number of decisions with Virtual Phonetics that many, including myself, will remain ‘irritated’ by. In short, the design of around 11,000 different English words has forced the ways in which I have decided to use the 10 signs of Virtual Phonetics. And on occasions these decisions have been arbitrary.
Chris Nugent

About Phonetic English ESL

For the first time ever, the progress of most ESL students will not be quite so impeded by the near 400 pronunciation ‘rules’ that, for up to a millennium, have made written English so utterly frustrating:

The student notes to each of the 25 audio modules on this site begin with a READ ALOUD CHECK that is written in a new and ‘phonetically regular’ English code.


Between the 1960s and 1970s, the Australian government, through its Department of Immigration, employed a group of truly ingenious ESL teachers.

These teachers produced a group of 120 lessons that were used to teach many thousands of ESL students all over Australia. In particular, the oral dialogue sections of the first 100 of these lessons were regularly broadcast over Australia’s national radio networks. Vinyl records of the broadcasts were also used by teachers in classrooms all around the country.

It is now some years since these out-of-date, out-of-print and out-of-copyright materials were abandoned: yet upon careful analysis they still prove to be second to none for ESL teaching excellence.

Years ago, the student notes for the 120 lessons were printed in what are now the 6 ‘heritage era’ books that were once distributed freely by the Australian Government. The 17 vinyl records of the broadcasts were packaged in 2 boxes that had roughly the weight and volume of a fully packed briefcase.

In this re-launch of Australia’s heritage era ESL books and recordings, Virtual Phonetics has renamed the set of 17 records and 6 books as Talk All the Way to Fluent English. With an abundance of gratitude and admiration for the era of teachers who taught before, Virtual Phonetics has improved on the scripts that were originally created with the restrictions of typewriter fonts of half a century ago.

These changes have converted a very bulky teaching kit into a very convenient one that most ESL students can now use with any Internet enabled device.

The old lesson plans for learning to speak English still apply to our modern ESL students because… “English as ‘she’ is still spoken around the world”… has hardly changed at all in the intervening half century.

The Virtual Phonetics program is a simple first stage toward helping ESL students to read and spell English words with greater accuracy. It is based upon a method for the teaching of basic literacy that first originated some 3,200 years ago.

This ancient method is still being used today for the teaching of Hebrew literacy skills throughout the world.

Virtual Phonetics basically does for modern English words what the ‘vocalization marks’ of Hebrew have done for Hebrew words for millennia. In this sense, no other method for the teaching of beginning reading skills has ever been more thoroughly trialed.

Virtual Phonetics puts 10 special marks around the letters of English words to show how they are pronounced.

See this sample:

There w1s once a king of Persia wh& t$$k delight in d&ing tings in very uncommon ways. At one time he w1s in need of a man that wo5ld 3lways d& wh1t he told him to d&, and he t$$k a very strange way to find him. He sent %ut his w!rd that he w1nted a man to w!rk f@r him in his g2rden. M@re than a hundred came, and, from am#ng them he chose tw&. He showed them a l2rge b2sket in the g2rden, and told them to fill it with w3ter from the well near by. After they had begun their w!rk he left them, saying When the sun is d%wn I shall c#me and see y@ur w!rk; and, if I find that you have d#ne it well, I shall pay you. Then the king left them alone.

These 10 marks reduce the complexity of our English spelling or sounding-out ‘rules system’ down from near 400 ‘rules’ to around 60 main ones: and this without changing the spelling of any of the words in the text.

This promises to make Virtual Phonetics especially useful for both beginner ESL students and for the re-teaching of basic spelling and reading skills to some older age (born-to-English) students and workers. The shorter the alphabetic code, the easier it is to crack.

Virtual Phonetics reduces the code of written English to around one sixth of its normal size.


Teachers, students and professional text book writers are all likely to be intrigued by an ENGLISH TEXT CONVERSION APP that enables the INSTANT conversion of any ordinary English text into a phonetically regular one!

This app is the first ever of its type. Above all, it promises to be a very practical app that is currently able to convert 15,500 English words.



The teachers resource is a direct teaching program designed to help teachers with students who have English pronunciation problems that are typical of students who have been born into a ‘tonal’ language community.

The program provides highly specific speech articulation. It is based rigorously upon the type of precise science that is involved in the field of SPEECH PATHOLOGY.

It also integrates a thorough breakdown of what is known as ‘the acoustic design’ that underpins the pronunciation of English words.

Whilst this program does sound very technical in its presentation, it is in practice, a very simple program to implement. No jargon is used.

The program was originally designed here in Australia, during the 1980s, among students born into tonal language communities such as: Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Taiwan.

It is the only program of its type that I know of… and it works!
Chris Nugent