Review ~ English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate

An excellent pronunciation resource for both teachers and students alike, with accompanying audio and CD ROM.
Reviewed for Teflnet by John Grant
English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate Second Edition

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.

Of course what would a pronunciation book be without the CDs? The five audio CDs contain models for repetition and slowed down tracks for listening. The accent they use as a model is from the south of England, but they have included accents from a variety of sources in the listening, which I believe is an excellent feature as it adds a real world aspect to the book that many pronunciation books lack. The CD ROM contains further exercises to complement the book. This CD ROM is particularly easy to navigate, if a little heavy on listening activities. It also includes a place to record your tests so you can make note of your progress. Included in the test section is a “record yourself” feature so make sure your computer has a microphone. The CD ROM also includes an interactive phonemic chart that lets you hear each individual phoneme. You’ll never want to go back to the table in the back of the dictionary.

This new edition has a several interesting features that make it unique among pronunciation books. First of all, the final section on listening called “Understanding Pronunciation in Use” emphasizes the need to understand other people’s pronunciation as well as polishing up our own. The quick-paced recordings taken from natural settings such as radio programmes delve into areas such as showing enthusiasm or giving yourself thinking time. These aspects of pronunciation are often overlooked and are a welcome break from the thinking that pronunciation begins and ends with minimal pairs and syllable stress.

The parts I found most interesting was how the book makes it easier to concentrate on what the student actually needs. Hancock has recognised that often students are using English with people whose mother tongue is also not English rather than with native speakers of English. The section English as a Lingua Franca has a simple table which prioritizes the units that are most important for students that are looking to communicate with people around the world. Also the “Guide for Speakers of Specific Languages” lists the units which are most useful and not useful for many languages and groups of languages. This way a student can concentrate on what they need and make their studying that much more efficient.

In a similar vein, there is a pronunciation test at the end of the book that could also function as a self-diagnostic test for students. I believe that this is an integral part of the book and perhaps would be better at the beginning where it would feature more predominantly. This would be especially more useful for students using the book for self-study. Also, it would be helpful if it were labeled as a self-diagnostic test rather than “Pronunciation Test” to make it easier to find.

In short, the new edition of English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate is an easy to use book that focuses our students on what they really need. It is written in such a fun way that you could easily use some of exercises in every class.

Reviewed by John Grant for Teflnet April 2013
John Grant has been teaching English around the world for over fifteen years. He now resides in Japan and is always looking for new ideas to make his classes enjoyable and his life a little easier!

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