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/I:/ /tI:/ phoneme – E.T. The extraterrestrial EFL Student

Written by the Bell Team

E.T. is a film about a small alien who gets stranded on Earth. 


It was released in 1982 and in 1983 it won 4 Oscars.

In the film E.T. is taught how to speak English by a little boy and his sister, but he has some problems with pronunciation. This is a common problem for anyone learning a new language but, luckily, when learning English there is a tool you can use to help. It is called the Phonemic Chart:


The phonemic chart shows all of the sounds we use in English. There are only 44! Easy, right!?
We can use the phonemic chart to help us find out how to say words that are not written in the same way as they are spoken. For example;

Wednesday is said “Wensday” or using phonemes it would be / wenzdeɪ /

The phonemic chart is split into 3 main parts; simple vowel sounds (monopthongs), complex vowel sounds (dipthongs) and consonant sounds.

Here are some more words in phonemic script. See if you can figure out what the missing words are using your phonemic chart:

/ keɪmbrɪʤ/    


/ hæpi: /


/ lɜ:n /   


/ ɪŋglɪʃ /   


/ eɪli:ən /


/ lesən /


/ bʊk /   


/ vɪsətə /


Maybe if E.T. had had a Phonemic Chart, he would have found it easier to learn English. Here is E.T.’s catchphrase in phonemic script:

/ i: ti: fəʊn həʊm / – “E.T. phone home.”

Key Vocabulary



To be stranded

To be left in a difficult position

To be released

To be set free OR to make a film available to the public



A phoneme

A single sound from a language

To split

To break into smaller parts

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Written by the Bell Team,
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