Tuesday, December 18, 2007

American Accent Training- Review

"American Accent Training" is a book and CD set by Ann Cook. You can buy it on Amazon.com. As the title suggests, this is a pronunciation-only system. It is designed for one thing-- to improve your English pronunciation and get you to speak more like an American.

This system has two major strengths. First, it focuses mostly on intonation rather than individual sounds.

Most pronunciation books and CDs focus on the sounds of difficult letters. For example, they spend a lot of time on pronouncing "r" and "l". The result is that students improve these sounds a little, but their overall pronunciation is still terrible.

For most students, INTONATION, not the sounds of letters, is their big problem. Poor intonation is the reason native speakers cannot understand you. Which is why I like American Accent Training-- the program focuses on the most important pronunciation skill.

The second strength of this program is that it is listening based. Surprisingly, many pronunciation programs focus on the EYES instead of the ears. I've seen a lot of books with complicated drawings of the mouth and tongue, for example. All these complicated drawings are useless.

American Accent Training includes 5 CDs, so it is listening focused. And as all Effortless English members know, you learn to speak by listening. You improve speaking with your ears, not your eyes. This is true for pronunciation, as well as fluency, grammar, and vocabulary.

American Accent Training, however, does have one big weakness. It is boring. There are a lot of word lists and sentences to practice, but not of them has any meaning. You spend your time practicing random words and sentences. So, the biggest challenge with this program is finishing it.

I recommend American Accent Training only for students who are advanced and who want to focus all of their energy on pronunciation. If you are very motivated to improve your pronunciation, and can endure some boredom, the program will help you.

For everyone else, I recommend using movies and my english conversation lessons to improve pronunciation. These are much more interesting to use. Simply listen carefully, pause after each sentence, and copy the speaker's pronunciation. Make it a game-- pretend you are an actor!

Good luck with your English learning :)

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

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