Phonetic Exercises

Phonetic Exercises - Languages in Danger

Author: Maciej Karpiński
Before We Start

The tools you will need: Praat or Wavesurfer

In order to do some exercises you will need to run phonetic software. Praat is a free but very powerful and popular computer program used by researchers all over the world – and not only for phonetic analyses but also for speech transcription and annotation. For our purposes, you will need to learn only some of its basic functions. The user interface of Praat is not a standard one but after a few sessions you will find it very logical and well-organised.

You can download Praat from its home site:

It does not have to be installed – you just decompress the file and run it from any location. Be sure to select the version that complies with the operating system of your computer. For some purposes, you may find useful to download phonetic fonts from the same site.

There are many excellent tutorials for Praat available on the web, for example:

A video tutorial on YouTube:

But there are many more and probably newer ones. If you want to explore some advanced functions of Praat, please look for more recent tutorials as Praat evolves and certain new functionalities may become available or the old ones may work in a different way. For the basic functions, virtually any tutorial will do.

If you decided you do not like Praat, you can also use WaveSurfer:

It is probably simpler and has standard user interface. On the other hand, its basic version is quite limited when compared to Praat. If you use WaveSurfer, please choose [Speech analysis] from the list of choices that pops up when you load a sound file. Here you can access some (of many more) tutorials:

For some exercises you may need another piece of software: Visual Analyser. It is also free and you can download it from this site:

It requires installation but its basic use is very simple. It analyses the incoming signal in real time. You can see the oscillogram as a more or less compound waves in the top panel and the spectrogam as a representation of energy in various frequency ranges in the bottom panel. Before you start to use it, it is recommended to calibrate it. Select [Settings], then [Calibrate] and [Start measure signal] and, after a few seconds, press [ok] button in the lower right corner of the window.