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Book review
Pronunciation Practice Activities cover

Pronunciation Practice Activities
by Martin Hewings


Review written by Alistair Dickinson

A new book on developing phonology in the classroom is always welcome & this one, 'Pronunciation Practice Activities' provides a very solid practical overview.

To begin with, quite a few books for developing pronunciation assume a knowledge of phonology on the part of the teacher before they can begin to use the material effectively but here we have a succinct summary of each area plus a discussion of some areas of debate within pronunciation teaching, such as which models to provide for our students & which areas are considered most important. A useful introduction for most teachers.

The book consists of the following chapters:

Developing awareness of English pronunciation
Sounds: vowels, consonants & consonant clusters
Connected speech
Syllables, word stress & stress in phrases
Pronunciation & other parts of the language: spelling, grammar & vocabulary
Testing pronunciation
Resources for teaching pronunciation

Appendices include; a key to the phonetic symbols, common pronunciation problems, initial consonant clusters in English, some word stress rules & a bibliography - all useful.

Each activity, nearly a hundred in total, conforms to the ordered informational outline of the Handbook series. The focus of the activity, level, estimated time, preparation & procedure, with accompanying extensions, make up each activity. Most are accompanied by photocopiable worksheets & there is a cd that provides clear models, as well as authentic sounding monologues & dialogues.

The activities themselves have clearly been tried & tested, & range from the traditional minimal pair task to the more communicative. Listening, as it should, plays a big role in the approach to developing phonology. A lot of the tasks start with perception before moving on to production, & there is also the emphasis on the natural, guiding students towards natural production through connected speech models.

There is generally more on the segmental rather than the suprasegmental aspects of phonology, a reflection of how much easier it is to deal with the former & how difficult it is to pin down the intonation system to manageable treatment. Voice quality is occasionally touched on & does warrant a chapter of its own but there are so many other good ideas that there is little room for any more.

'Pronunciation Practice Activities' is full of imaginative activities. Teachers who feel insecure about dealing with phonology in class should pick this book up & go through the activities with their students. The outcome would clearly be greater awareness & improvement for the students & a much better understanding of phonology for the teacher. Very highly recommended for all levels of teacher experience.

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