Pronounce it Perfectly in French: A Language Software Review
What You Will Learn
Pronounce it Perfectly in French is designed for self-instruction, but works best as an accompaniment to other methods. In other words, you won't be able to learn the French language just by using this software. This software is particularly designed for helping improve your pronunciation of the French sounds, not for teaching vocabulary or grammatical structures.
The goal of this language learning software is for you to hear the "musical qualities" of the French language and learn, by careful listening and repetition, to make these sounds yourself as you speak French. As you listen to the CDs and follow along in the book, you will not only learn the pronunciation of the French vowels and consonants, but you will also become aware of the rhythm, intonation, liaisons, elision, and enchaînement (linking of sounds). You will learn to distinguish nasal vowels from regular vowels and to perfect the French vowel pronunciations, a difficult feat for any native English speaker.
Overall, with this self-guided course, you will learn how to sound natural as you speak the French language. You will know how to properly pronounce words and how to combine the sounds as you link words into phrases and sentences--a vital pronunciation skill for French!
How You Will Learn It
The book and discs guide the learner, step by step, through a process of perfecting the learner's pronunciation of French. The earliest units cover simple and basic vowel and consonant sounds. Then, the next lessons cover common vowels combinations and clusters with or without consonants. Then, you are guided through words, phrases, clauses and sentences, learning how to pronounce them in context. The CDs provide the audio, and the book shows a diagram of the shape the mouth makes for a particular sound. In addition, the software gives numerous "Practice for Mastery" sections which allow the learner to hear and practice the many sounds of French.
For the most part, the presentation is very conducive to learning how to pronounce French. The only drawback of this software is how the sounds are presented in some cases. Sometimes the vowels are given in isolation, so although you do get to hear how the vowels sound when spoken by a native French speaker, you don't get to hear them in context and hear them carefully contrasted with very similar sounds in similar linguistic environments.
Yet in spite of this drawback, overall the presentation of the sounds is very helpful and will certainly aid you in improving your ear and your tongue as you pursue perfect pronunciation of French! If you are a linguist, this software has an added plus: the French sounds are all represented in their proper positions on an IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) chart; so, if you know the IPA, you'll see exactly how to pronounce the sounds of French in this system.
Where You Can Find It
Pronounce it Perfectly in French--three compact discs and one small book in all--is available at Amazon for $14.95, about thirty percent off the list price of $21.99. Used copies are also available for a slightly lower price.