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Customer Review

on 8 December 2008
This is a book that I feel as if I've been using for years. The truth is that until a couple of years ago there was only one, English Pronunciation in Use, which has now become the Intermediate book of a series of three. I haven't used the Elementary and used what became the Intermediate for several years before getting hold of the Advanced version.

As with others in the series, this book is laid out like many traditional grammar books are. It is not a 'handbook' for teachers, but a 'do' book for students which can be used both with and independently of a teacher; each unit has a page of explanation and a page of exercises ' whilst this isn't ever going to be enough, with the accompanying audio the committed student has plenty to work on. There are 5 audio CDs and answers that accompany it (essential for self-study), and the book is clearly and well laid out.

Part of my criticism of the Intermediate book is that much of the language is too simple. The phonetic chart, for example, is of the visual type 'æ is for apple', '': is for car', which patronises adult learners, particularly those already working in the target language. I have never understood why again and again publishers equate lower levels of linguistic ability to immaturity and childishness. Equally the Advanced version of this book sometimes uses grammatical structures which are unnecessarily complex. This is a pronunciation book, only, after all. However, the latter is a much lesser evil.

The book itself is split into five sections. The first 'getting started' is a great introduction for self-study, though trainers will probably skip to the meat of the text. The final section, the fifth, is the reference section, no surprises there, which does include further practice on getting the hang of phonemic symbols and what they represent (particularly useful for those learners whose first language shares the use of the Roman Alphabet with English), as well as further practice with consonant clusters (vital practice for speakers of Castilian Spanish, amongst others). The rest of the reference section deals with further practice with word stress and the ever important glossary.

The three middle sections are where the meat is:

* Pronunciation of words and phrases
* Pronunciation in conversation
* Pronunciation in formal settings

The final of these is much shorter, and to my mind, much less important. The first deals mostly with stresses in words and sentences whilst the second spends much time on intonation, an area where, beyond having some idea of 'rising' at the end when asking a question, most more advanced learners of English fall short.

Worked through methodically, the explanations and exercises are clear enough, and can form the basis of a better understanding of the subject. But only the basis. There is, of course, no substitution for real-world situations and self-recording and playback.

What you won't find in here is dedicated work on individual sounds, that is covered in the Intermediate book, but those can be covered adequately with what is here.

Overall, I've found this to be a very useful book, covering particularly well the joining of syllables and words in English and the pronunciation of functional words in their weak and strong forms.
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