When writing English we use the 26 letters of the alphabet. However,
when speaking there are roughly 44 different sounds in English.
If you're concentrating on the
sounds of English, you need 44 characters to represent them all.
One way of doing this is to use a common group of sound symbols. It has
some extra characters which represent the sounds in English for which
there is no clear equivalent letter or letters.
Writing with sound symbols
You can use these symbols to write out the pronunciation of
words and in many dictionaries for English learners you will see
the pronunciation written out. To show that what is written are
sounds and not letters the transcriptions are written
between slashes, / /.
For example, the pronunciation of the word 'pet' is written:
There are different kinds of sounds, consonants and vowels.