Review - Pronunciation Power 1

Library Journal, Volume 127, No. 9, July 1, 2001

CD-ROM - Pronunciation Power 1

Windows 95+/PowerMac 7.5.3+. 2000.
Price: $79.95

Pronunciation Power 1, produced by English Computerized Learning, Inc. in Canada and distributed by Encomium Publications, lives up to its promise to provide students of English with a user-friendly learning tool that is both intensely instructive and fun. The first screen gives the choice of 12 languages in which the instructions and lesson directions can be displayed.

Once a language is chosen (English is the default), the user can opt to begin with the lessons, go through the exercises, browse the 7000- word picture dictionary, or play timed word games. The 52 lessons, one for each distinctive sound in English, demonstrates in great detail how the combination of voice, tongue, teeth, and lips produce sounds. Choose a consonant, a verb, or a "cluster" sound and listen as a clear, resonant voice pronounces it (speakers are required for full functionality). Then click the play button to see the cross-sectional graphic view of the exact position of the tongue and teeth when pronouncing a certain sound. (I really wish there had been a product like this around when I was learning Welsh!). The graphic design can even be viewed very slowly, frame by frame. In addition to the graphic, a video clip shows a front view of the lip movement required to make a sound.

Another section, called "exercises," enables students to practice the sounds they've learned in the lessons interactively. With a computer equipped with a microphone, students can speak and record their reading of each word or phrase and compare the quality of their pronunciation with that of the computerized instructor's. The "games" section offers timed quizzes that test a student's comprehension of words and sounds. In one game, the student is presented with a group of eight pictures and must click on the right picture as the instructor's voice reads words.

The target audience for this product, beginner and intermediate students of English, will also benefit from the "8 in 1 English Dictionary" component. Instructions and root word translations are available in 12 different languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese). In addition, all of the nouns and many other words are accompanied by a photo or graphic.

The Bottom Line: Pronunciation Power 1 is all that an ESL instructional product should be: it has a simple but informative design, is easy to use, and includes just the right combination for both the beginner and the intermediate student of English. Highly recommended for public library circulating collections, as well as for high school and academic libraries supporting ESL programs.

--Elizabeth McKeigue, Access Svcs., Widener Lib., Harvard Univ.

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