Book of the Month
Focus on Pronunciation - Book 1

Publisher: Pearson
Author: Linda Lane

ISBN 0-13-231493-2


How well an English speaker handles pronunciation is often used as the measure of how well that person speaks English. Generally speaking, it does not matter what accent a speaker has, so long as that accent does not interfere with a listener's understanding of what is being said. Where an accent is so thick as to be incomprehensible, it does not matter how good the speaker's grammar and vocabulary might be, that speaker still cannot be understood. Therefore any book which teaches pronunciation is to be welcomed, and this book does a good job of teaching its subject. The book reviewed here is the first of a series of three, but it works well as a standalone text.

There are only 166 pages to this book, but much of the work is done by the accompanying CD. With a book of this sort, a CD is a vital accompaniment as the best way to understand how a sound should be pronounced is to actually hear it. In fact this book works so closely with the CD that it is considerably less useful without it. Buyers of second-hand versions of the book should either insist on also getting the CD or look elsewhere.
The book covers all the basic elements of pronunciation - stress, rhythm and intonation. However, only stress and intonation get their own section. The other two sections of this book are pronunciation of vowels and - in Part II - pronunciation of consonants. Each of these three sections of the book has the same format. The first part explains - often with the help of diagrams - how each sound is made by the throat and tongue. The second part is practice in making these sounds and how the sounds are combined into words. The final part of each section is a set of theme-based communication activities to demonstrate the pronunciation in 'real' use. The author also gives many useful tips in boxes marked 'natural English', such as when giving a date, the day should usually be stressed more strongly than the month.
Given the moderately high price of this book, the amount of white space (empty page without print or pictures) seems a bit excessive, and the number of pictures also seems rather high. However, the material on the CD makes up for the relatively small amount of content in the book, and this is another reason why this book should be purchased only if the CD is with it.

Who is this book for? The exercises make it clear that this book is designed to be used in the classroom. The exercises and language level are basic enough for even a class of young elementary level students to be be able to work with the material. Those studying alone will not be able to make full use of the exercises, so a study group is recommended, not least because the book can be shared and the cost spread among group members. An English-speaking parent will also find this book helpful for working on the pronunciation of a child or children.

Verdict: Needs the CD to be really useful
Assessment 6/10

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