For example, the English kitchen [китчен].

Is this way suitable for children?

  • Hello and welcome to ELU! what are you actually asking here? Whether you should pronounce words in your native tongue? I'm pretty sure everyone does that anyway... Also, consider ELL, which is for language learners...
    – marcellothearcane
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 9:14
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    Well /и/ is not pronounced like the i in 'kitchen' so that's one problem. But this question is not on topic for this site, and I doubt it's on topic at ELL. The main reason is we don't know what makes for good practice for you.
    – Clare
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 11:02
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    @marcello the question may involve English, but is not about English. It is about learning any language.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 11:45
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    There are sounds in English that don't exist in your native language, so that might be a problem. For example, the th in thing doesn't seem to have a Cyrillic letter associated with it. (Certainly not in any of the common languages written in Cyrillic.)
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 11:51

3 Answers 3


Generally speaking, transcription is a good approach if the language that you want to learn is not a written language, or for languages like Arabic where the writing does not represent all of the sounds (for example, mumkin is written mmkn in arabic).

If the target language is simpler than the native language, transcription may be useful in parallel with the writing of the target language during early stages to give a guide about pronunciation.

Learning a language entirely orally works well with young children, as they learn vocabulary organically without the need for written lists. For adults, vocabulary learning is often the biggest barrier to learning so a personal vocabulary list is usually necessary, and (apart from the types of language specified above), it is best to just do some work and learn to write in the target language from the start.

  • 2
    Welcome to Language Learning!
    – fi12
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 17:22

When you use a transcription system, it should be appropriate for the language that you use it for. This means that is should at least be able to represent the sounds used in the target language. For example, the official transcription systems for Standard Chinese is hanyu pinyin. Hanyu pinyin uses the Latin alphabet, which is used by many other languages around the world, so for many learners (though by no means all learners!) it has the advantage of being familiar. However, pinyin uses the Latin alphabet in way that are counter-intuitive for many learners (e.g. speakers of Germanic or Romance languages).

A transcription system for English would need to be able to represent all the sounds used in the English language. Such a system already exists, namely the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA. IPA provides a very accurate representation (not just for English), however, its disadvantage—especially for children—is that you need to learn an additional "alphabet". So the wish to use the Cyrillic alphabet that children are already familiar with seems attractive. However, as some commenters have pointed out, the Cyrillic alphabet cannot represent some sounds in the English language, so transcriptions based on it would be incomplete or misleading.

Instead of using the Cyrillic alphabet to represent the sounds of the English language, I see two alternatives:

  • If reading and writing is important from the start, introduce the Latin alphabet from the start.
  • Delay reading and writing activities and focus on listening and speaking; introduce written English only when a firm foundation in oral communication has been built.

Such transcription is nearly useless. I.e. "kitchen" is in IPA: "ˈkɪʧən" which is closer to "[кичн]".

Also, "beach" and "bitch" would be phonetically transcribed to "[бич]" because Russian cannot show the difference between "biːʧ" and "biʧ".

I know from personal experience, that for Russians is hard to distinguish between "bed" and "bad" because Russian language does not have the vowel "æ". So how you would transcribe it in your proposed system? And many other sounds, like "ð" vs "θ"

We have IPA for a reason.

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