Welcome to Rethink Speech 101: Unlearning

Rethink Speech 101: Unlearning is our flagship offering, stepping you through a lot of the foundational unlearning that is built on throughout this site. That makes it a great place to start your Rethink Speech exploration. However, it is also fine to start with one or more of the other modules then come back and fill in the foundations later on.

What do I do?!?

It is highly recommended that you look over the material linked from the START menu to understand what Rethink Speech is all about.

RTS 101 consists of four modules. You’ll find an overview of all modules here. As explained in Join Us!, when you sign up for each module, you will get free access to that module for 10 days. It is recommended you do one demo per day. To help you, we send you a reminder each day (you can cancel these anytime if you wish).

You should review the info in INFO to understand how the site works, and what you get (and don’t get) by signing up. However if you are ultra-keen, you can sign up for your first module quickly here.

You might find it worth looking over the following before you begin!

Image from Pixabay

Don’t bother about feeling ‘hopeless’

Some of our demonstrations set you some tasks you might expect to be easy but are actually extremely difficult.

The reason for that is NOT to get you all frustrated and make you feel you are ‘hopeless at phonetics’!

The reason is to help you reflect on the interesting contradiction between the common expectation that the task will be easy and the reality that it is difficult – and think about what false beliefs that contradiction reveals.

The good news is that some Rethink Speech demonstrations show that things we might expect to be very difficult are actually quite easy – check out Experiencing Speech for some examples.

The even better news is that adjusting our expectations about what is easy or difficult is part of the process of unlearning that helps us develop a better way of thinking about speech.


Please remember this material is not teaching you phonetics! It aims to demonstrate a lot of things that are not true about speech, and help you unlearn widely accepted false beliefs. It is only in later modules that we go on to suggest better ways of thinking about speech, and to provide additional material specifically for language teaching or forensic applications.

If you have studied phonetics before

Some of the demonstrations might start off looking like ‘normal’ introductory phonetics. However, in all cases, we move quickly to questions that are often not addressed in normal phonetics courses until advanced levels (check out Rethink Phonetics for more on this). By all means skim over parts that really are familiar, but do have a look before assuming you have ‘been there, done that’.



Please exercise extreme caution before applying the insights you gain from this module in practical contexts. If you have questions about their relevance for practical tasks you are engaged in, please get in touch.

Just a reminder

The RTS101 modules are designed to be done in the order presented in the red menu above. However, if one of them calls to you strongly, feel free to choose your own path.

Do be aware, though, of our recommendation that within each module, it is best to follow the demonstrations in order, as later demo’s often build on earlier ones.

Phew what a build-up!

We’ve tried to cover about some common issues that sometimes arise with Rethink Speech – but the main message is: Give it a go and please so keep in touch about whatever issues you may have.

Ready to get into it?

If you have a login, enter it below (if needed) then choose the module you have signed up for from the red menu above.

If you’re not a member yet, you’ll see a tantalising first paragraph of each demo. For full access, get info on membership under Join Us (INFO menu).