The Online English Pronunciation Course: A Comparison with Other Textbooks
In late 2012 I was frustrated at the lack of good pronunciation textbooks available for non-native speakers learning contemporary British English. So I decided to start creating my own worksheets and audio recordings. Now (it’s currently late 2016), I’ve launched my own online course. I believe it’s by far the best course available. Here are the reasons why:
I’ve bought and read all of the available English pronunciation textbooks on the market (including Get Rid of Your Accent, Work on Your Accent, English Pronunciation in Use, The Sound of English, and Ship or Sheep). None of them do all of the following:
- Teach a contemporary British English accent (rather than an old-fashioned one).
- Explain and explore how your speech muscles (tongue, lips, soft palate, etc.) work.
- Provide articulation exercises (i.e. training your speech muscles so they become stronger/more flexible and so that you gain more control).
- Guide you according to your native language (e.g. a Chinese speaker will have different priorities compared to a Spanish speaker). This means it’s not necessary to learn all the sounds and everything contained in the course. You just focus on the important topics for you.
- Comparisons with your native language (e.g. by explaining /b/ vs /v/ in English, but [b] vs [ꞵ] in Spanish).
- Provide easy-to-understand video lessons (my course has over 80) and native speaker audio recordings (my course has over 550).
Most of the pronunciation textbooks mentioned before include brief worksheets on all the vowels and consonants in (usually old-fashioned) English. However, none of them include all of the following:
- Clear explanations and exercises for rhythm and intonation.
- Clear explanations and exercises for voice quality (also known as articulatory settings or oral posture).
- Clear explanations and exercises for important pronunciation topics in English such as aspiration of /p, t, k/ (or VOT), pre-fortis clipping, (preventing) voicing assimilation, (preventing too much) vowel nasalisation, and the English hesitation sounds.
- Worksheets (plus exercises and audio recordings) on sounds such as the Glottal Stop [ʔ], the Light L [l] and Dark L [ɫ], the GOAT vowel /əʊ/ vs the GOAL vowel [ɒʊ], the GOOSE vowel /uː/ vs the GHOUL vowel [uː], the SQUARE vowel /ɛː/ (formally /eə/) as a monophthong, the two NEAR vowels [iə] and [ɪː], and a discussion of the CURE vowel /ʊə/.
- Clear diagrams and descriptions of how to make sounds.
- Worksheets with plenty of practice targeting the difference between specific sounds (e.g. Luke-look, kooky-cookie).
- Sections for potentially embarrassing mix-ups with recordings and exercises (e.g. sheet–!shit, beach-!bitch, can’t–!cunt, etc.)
- Long practice texts targeting specific sounds (e.g. the difference between the LOT /ɒ/, NORTH /ɔː/, and GOAT /əʊ/ vowels), or particular topics (e.g. a text containing all the possible consonant clusters in English).
- Interactive vowel and consonant charts with contemporary British English sounds.
- Lists of common words which have a particular vowel sound (it’s often challenging to guess the vowel in the word due to confusing English spelling).
- Links to listen/watch native speakers talking, as well as links to other online resources.
It’s important to practise effectively and to be able to incorporate new sounds into your everyday speech. My course (and none of the other textbooks) includes all of the following:
- A sense-based approach: for each new vowel or consonant, we explore how it feels in the mouth, what it looks like in the mirror, and how it sounds. This allows you to know whether you are making a sound accurately.
- Explanation of how accent is linked to identity and inviting you to explore the implications of this when moving towards a new accent.
- Clear advice about how to practise and how to incorporate sounds into your everyday speech.