Vol. 4. No. 2 M-1 November 1999
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Pronunciation Power: A CD-Rom

NYPORT Corporation (Michael S. Paas)
551 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10017, USA
Phone: (212) 973-0065; Fax : (212) 973-0070
Units Purchased  Price per Unit
1-10 $50 + s/h
11-50 $46 + s/h
51-100 $42 + s/h
100+ $40 + s/h

System requirements:




Pronunciation Power is a multimedia program aiming to teach American pronunciation. It starts with a display of four buttons: (1) User Manual, (2) Quick Tour, (3) Start, and (4) Quit. The User Manual requires the installation of the Acrobat Reader program.

The Quick Tour gives a demonstration of the program. The Start button enables the user to see the transcription of 52 sounds (in five screens). Selecting a sound also means hearing it at the same time, so the user can simply click and hear the sound as many times as he or she wants. Throughout the program, the target sounds in all written exercises can be highlighted with a click on the toggle button. This enables the user to pay attention to the many possibilities of spelling for some of the sounds. Once a sound is selected, four buttons appear: (1) Lessons, (2) Speech Analysis, (3) Exercises, and (4) Quit. Clicking the Lessons button opens a screen with an illustrated, animated side view of the voice box and air flow of the particular sound, and a videotaped front view of the corresponding lip movement. A written (and audible) explanation of the sound production is given as well.

The Speech Analysis button enables the student to hear and record his or her own production of the sound and to compare his or her sound-wave forms to those of the target sound. The student can also hear the target sound and his or her own recording as many times as necessary and compare the two. Thus, the comparison is, in fact, audio-visual. The Exercises button opens a screen with four types of exercises:

  1. Sample Words, consisting of words with the target sound which can be read, heard and recorded, enabling a comparison between target and production.
  2. Comparative Words is an exercise in which words with the target sound are compared to similar words (words with the same consonants but different vowels). These comparative words can also be heard and recorded to enable comparison between target and production.
  3. Listening Discrimination shows sentences which can be both read and heard, with two options for one of the words in each sentence. Both options are semantically and syntactically correct, but only one of the two is the one that is heard. The student has to choose what he or she heard. The program gives feedback with conventional "correct" or "wrong" symbols.
  4. Sentences can be both read and heard and include several words with the target sound. The learner can repeat these sentences, record and then compare his or her production to the model.

Advantages of the program

Disadvantages of the program


In spite of the above points of criticism, Pronunciation Power seems to be a good start for a learner of English who is willing to improve his or her pronunciationin the language. Still, one should be aware of the fact that this course is only a beginning, and should be followed by much more practice through a more advanced pronunciation course, or a course that offers many more examples and opportunities for practicing stress and intonation.

Shira Koren
Bar Ilan University, Israel

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