Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

IPA is Cool![ai pi e ɪz kul]

Subject Area

Digital Literacy and Computer Science




Students will be introduced to the International Phonetic Alphabet and learn how to apply it to songs in foreign languages. In this particular lesson, they will learn the symbols for vowels used in Italian and apply them to a simple, seventeenth-century Italian art song, "Star Vicino". Students will be evaluated through individual podcasts created and edited using Audacity.

    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): 8


    Produce, review, and revise authentic artifacts that include multimedia using appropriate digital tools.

    Unpacked Content



    Students know:
    • feedback is important in a design process.


    Students are able to:
    • create a multimedia artifact.
    • critique the work of others.
    • revise their work based on feedback received.


    Students understand that:
    • much like the writing process, design of a multimedia artifact nets the best results when creators have the opportunity to be given feedback and revise as needed.

    Primary Learning Objectives

    Students will be able to differentiate between various vowel sounds heard in Italian and English and correctly use IPA vowel symbols to represent them. Students will recognize IPA vowel symbols and correctly pronounce the vowel sounds they represent. Students will create a podcast that demonstrates their proficiency in pronouncing the selected Italian phrases.

    Additional Learning Objective(s)

    Students will be able to differentiate between the seven Italian vowels (aurally and visually) and write the IPA symbol for each. Students will be able to substitute IPA vowel symbols for letters in familiar English words and names. Students will be able to substitute IPA vowel symbols for vowel sounds in a simple Italian art song.


    1. Students will arrive to class as recordings of Italian songs are playing on the stereo. They will retrieve their folders, take their seats and note the instructions on the white board.

    2. Students receive copies of "Star Vicino" and the IPA Worksheet. Students should have pencils in their folders.

    3. Teacher leads students in physical and vocal warm-ups. Teacher asks students to review the rhythm and melody of "Star Vicino" by singing through the song using solfege and hand signs.

    4. Students are asked to look at the text. The teacher will ask if any students speak Spanish and will explain that Italian vowels and Spanish vowels are very similar. The teacher will also remind students of the solfege vowels [o, e, i, a] which are the perfect, pure vowels to use for Italian.

    5. Students will be asked to set music aside and look at the IPA Guide on the interactive board. The teacher will explain what, how, and why the International Phonetic Alphabet is.

    6. Teacher will guide students through the pronunciation of the Italian vowels as well as English and Italian words that use these vowels.

    7. Teacher will lead students in practice writing the correct IPA symbol for vowels in common English words in Part I of the IPA Guide. Individual students may volunteer to write symbols on the board as students write the correct symbols on their IPA Guide handouts.

    8. Students will be asked to listen and differentiate vowels sounds in a list of Italian words and write the correct symbol on Part II of the worksheet as the teacher reads each word, students echo the word, and the teacher reads the word aloud again.

    9. Students will volunteer to come up to the board and write in the correct IPA symbol for each word. Teacher will make corrections as necessary.

    10. Students will work in groups in twos or threes to write the IPA symbols for the vowels in verse 1 of "Star Vicino" as indicated on the worksheet. The teacher will check in with student groups to provide assistance or keep students on task.

    11. Students will take turns writing the IPA symbols on the interactive board as the teacher guides students in pronunciation of each word.

    12. Students will write the correct IPA symbols for the first verse directly above the Italian text in their music.

    13. Students will sing through "Star Vicino" using the Italian text. Teacher will make corrections as necessary.

    15. Students will work alone or in groups to write out the vowels in verse verse 2 of "Star Vicino" directly above the Italian text in their music. The teacher will check in with students and groups to provide assistance or keep students on task.

    16. Teacher will review verse 2, providing correct pronunciation, and students will make corrections in their music as necessary.

    17. Students will sing through verse 2 before reviewing verse 1 and singing through the entire song.

    18. Students will, individually, take turns going to the computer to record their podcasts of verses 1 and 2. This activity will be repeated in each of the next two classes until all students have an opportunity to record.

    Assessment Strategies

    Students will be assessed individually on volunteered responses to Parts I and II of the worksheet. Students will then be allowed to work in groups of two or three for Part 3 of the worksheet, and each individual student will provide at least one answer at the interactive board. Students will also be assessed as a group on how well they integrate the new knowledge in singing the song.

    Students will be assessed individually based on podcast recordings. Recordings will be shared by uploading to the class wiki.

    In three subsequent classes. students will be evaluated, and evaluate themselves and each other on their own progress, by listening to the podcasts they produce individually or as a group.


    Students who display proficiency will be allowed to create enhanced podcasts with electronic rhythms and sounds.


    Students who need additional help may receive additional instruction from the teacher. Students who have difficulty with the podcast assignment may be given additional opportunities to perfect their "performances."

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    61 to 90 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    Select a recording of Italian art song.

    Prepare arrangement of "Star Vicino" and IPA Guide.

    Make copies of IPA Guide for students.

    Write the list of materials needed and activities on the whiteboard.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Teacher: recording of Italian art song and stereo, sheet music for "Star Vicino" arranged from 26 Italian Songs and Arias, IPA Guide including examples, practice words, text for "Star Vicino."

    Students: sheet music for "Star Vicino", pencil, IPA Guide (handout)

    Additional Resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_Italianhttp://soundsofspeech.uiowa.edu/ (animated library of phonetic sounds in English, German, and Spanish; also an interactive animation of the articulatory anatomy - requires a free account to access content); http://www.lieder.net/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=57088 (a poetic translation); http://translation2.paralink.com/ (word-by-word translations from most standard languages to English)

    Technology Resources Needed

    Document reader, projector, interactive board, computer with external microphone, Audacity (free sound editor).