English Dictionary based on sounds and Judy Thompson’s TED Talk

Judy Thompson taught ESL in South Korea. There that she had the first of many revelations about spoken English and how it should be taught.  Here is her TED Talk:

Three Secrets About Spoken English

Points she made in the TED Talk
  • SECRET #1:  English is a STRESSED based language
  • SECRET #2: LINKING.  Native speakers don’t start words with vowels. They link the words together when they pronounce them.
  • English is a language where the written word has very little to do with it’s spoken sound
  • SECRET #3:  COLLOCATIONS are the secret to speaking English like a native, not grammar.  English is idiomatic.
col·lo·ca·tion  (LINGUISTICS)
  • the habitual juxtaposition of a particular word with another word or words with a frequency greater than chance.  Example: “fall in love” not “fall to love”, “trip in love”  We say “Merry Christmas” but not “Merry New Year”.
  • There are more non-native English speakers than native English speakers in the world
  • Most of the global English speakers use 2000 words.  Native English speakers have a range of 1 million words commonly used.  We have TOO MANY words in English.
  • In 1930, Ogden created Basic English, a simplified subset of regular English for communicating with the world.  Voice of America uses a list of 1500 words for all it’s broadcasts.


Thompson developed an app Teacher Judys Sound Dictionary that allow you to look up a word by it’s vowel sound. The vowel sound is assigned a color (Thompson Color Vowel Chart). One can both hear how the word should sound if they can spell it, or look up a word based on it’s sound. Great idea. Dictionaries have always given me trouble looking up when I didn’t know how to spell a word.


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One Response to English Dictionary based on sounds and Judy Thompson’s TED Talk

  1. randomsoju says:

    Reblogged this on RandomSoju and commented:
    interesting info on ESL, nice reminder too- we English speakers that learning language is complex all over and we need to take a beat and remember that. Thanks to Hanguk Babble for blogging this.


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