I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to correct the pronunciation of my students – even the good ones with a great ear for music need all the help they can get, so this book is a bit of a gift.
Somehow, that “listen and repeat” routine just doesn’t do it for so many students. They need something more – something more tangible, some oral mechanics or technology, some help to isolate the alien sounds of English in order to access both aural recognition and oral production. The Book of Pronunciation aims to assist us in giving them just that.
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English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate Second Edition
English Pronunciation in Use is back with a second edition and it’s updated, current and a joy to use. The author of the Intermediate version is Mark Hancock, whom many teachers will recognize from his indispensable Pronunciation Games, which is also published by CUP. He brings the same enthusiasm for the subject to Pronunciation in Use. This book deals with many of the pronunciation issues our students face at an intermediate level such as individual sounds, stress and intonation, and a final section focuses on listening and natural speech.
The first thing to note is the simplicity of the layout of the materials. There are 60 two-page units starting with basic issues like minimal pairs and moving onto more specific areas such as emphasizing corrections. Pronunciation explanations are on the left hand side and exercises are on the right. The explanations are easy to follow (a must for a self-study book) and the exercises offer specific practice for each pronunciation point.
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Transcribing the Sound of English
Transcribing the Sound of English: a Phonetic Workbook for Words and Discourse, is designed for students of linguistics, and those who wish to learn how to write the sounds of English in a universal format. It offers something for everyone, from the complete linguistic novice, to the more experienced transcriber.
The book is divided into two parts: Words and Discourse. As a one-time student of linguistics, what I find particularly strong about this book is its presentation. The flow of information can be likened to a pyramid. It begins with a sweeping and simple look at individual phonemes, or sounds. As the text progresses, the information systematically moves from sounds in isolation, to sounds within words, to words within context (or the way in which they would naturally occur in spoken discourse). Since, of course, sounds rarely occur within isolation, the author builds upon each facet of the English sound system with increasing detail, affording the reader a most thorough explanation.
The first two chapters are great for students who are new to the topic, as they provide a comprehensive approach to transcribing the sounds of vowels and consonants. Both chapters include ‘quick tests’: short assessment exercises for the learner to gauge his or her progress. While these tests offer meaningful practice and useful measurement, the answers are not as accessible as some readers may like. Rather than included within the text like most workbooks, the Quick Tests’ answer keys are published on the accompanying website. This may be less than convenient for the learner who is away from his laptop or tablet. However, the keys are in pdf format, and thus easily printable. What is great about the website is that it includes an audio clip of each word and phrase included in the book. Thus, the learner can listen to the pronunciation, if need be, during transcription.
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Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca
English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) is still a contentious and disputed concept; hailed by some as a paradigm shift in our conception of languages, and by others as an overly politically correct proposal that robs the English language (and consequently ELT) of a firm grounding. Despite this tension, the increasing research into and accompanying literature about ELF perhaps make it inevitable that handbooks instructing ELT professionals in the teaching of ELF will be produced. Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca by Robin Walker is an example of just such a handbook.
The lack of agreement among linguists and teachers over the necessity for ELF is reflected in the structure of the book itself, as the first half is almost entirely given over to explanations of, and justifications for, ELF. These sections are very well written, and explain the case for ELF in a cool-headed and accessible way. In brief, the argument runs as follows: English now has more non-native than native speakers, and analysis of non-native speaker interactions reveals certain recurrent patterns
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