French Pronunciation – your key to success by Penny Sewell
Set of 2 DVDs (4 hours 30 minutes)
Would you like to pronounce French really well, even if your spoken French is very hesitant?
If so, read on...
The material is a reworked version of La Prononciation française pour de vrai, simplified and made really accessible, even for beginners. The overall emphasis is on understanding how French pronunciation works, and on giving many opportunities for repeating after a model.
Like its predecessor, La Prononciation française pour de vrai, these DVDs benefit from the wealth of experience, thought and technical expertise acquired during Penny’s many years of teaching.
French Pronunciation – Your key to success is aimed at motivated learners working on their own at home or in college. Almost all the examples are translated.
The two DVDs give you over four and half hours of film.
Units 1 – 7 focus on stress, rhythm and intonation,
Units 8 – 16 look at vowels and consonants,
Units 17-18 give you some phrases and tips you will love.
The account of a Paris visit at the end is for listening practice and can also be used for repetition and transcription exercises.
This course has grown out of Penny’s thirty-year experience of teaching French language, linguistics and culture to adult students at Birkbeck. The formal university course was tempered with practical, intensive work with students coming to France for one week immersion courses. (See link to Immersion France.) The immersion students require the essence distilled from the part-time course and delivered in a way that they can immediately apply and work on for practical purposes. Feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive. This English-language version is an even more refined distillation: it does not use phonetic symbols and it attempts explanations which, although informed by theory, are as practical as humanly possible.
The course is addressed to speakers of UK English, and is based on the specific problems UK English speakers have when learning French. However, the course can be recommended to speakers of English in other countries of the world if they have a good understanding of the ways in which UK English differs from their own variety of English and can make the mental adjustments necessary.
Penny’s Birkbeck colleague, Mansour Shabbak, spent many hours filming and editing, using dedicated software. The cuts and merges are expertly done, and the on-screen text was created as one would create an animation film, line by line, symbol by symbol. The new features of this course are that a better auto-cue system is in place and that words to be repeated are usually momentarily highlighted in red, which is an added stimulus and encouragement for the user.
As with all university publications, it is important to know the scholarly sources of the facts discussed. They are:
Coveney, A. 2001 The Sounds of Contemporary French, Elm Bank Publications, Exeter
Crystal, D. 1995 The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language, CUP, Cambridge
Dansereau, D. 2006 Savoir dire, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York
Derivery, N. 1997 La Phonétique du français, Collection Mémo, Seuil, Paris
Gadet, F. 2003 La Variation sociale en français, Ophrys, Paris
Fonagy, I. 1983 La Voix vive, essai de psycho-phonétique, Payot, Paris
Walter, H 2001 Honni soit qui mal y pense, Robert Laffont, Paris
Wioland, F. 1991 Prononcer les mots du français, Hachette, Paris (out of print)
This new course can be recommended to private learners of French [...]. The course will also suit professional people needing to communicate convincingly in French.
La prononciation française pour de vrai – About the Author
Penny spent most of her working life as Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, in the Department of French at Birkbeck, University of London. Birkbeck is dedicated to the needs of mature students studying part-time, attending classes in the evenings, and Penny’s teaching experience is apparent in these publications. Mature students in particular ask to engage intellectually with the topic and be given plenty of examples and convincing arguments so that they grasp from within, as it were, how things work. Penny has completed the Diplôme d’orienteur pédagogique (BELC) in Paris, and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics at the University of Essex. Some people have the gift of musical tone-recognition, others can acquire near-native accents in foreign languages. Penny is one of the latter: her Spanish and German have, in the past, been praised as much as her French. In addition to the well-nigh authentic French accent, Penny has exceptionally clear diction and accessible delivery - a real asset when it comes to helping students perfect their own accent in the language.
Reviews of French Pronunciation – your key to success
It is good value for money. Being a DVD and not a CD course, it has the advantage that you can see Penny Sewell’s mouth, which is a great advantage in getting a good sound. It also means that she can manipulate the words you see on the screen to emphasize the point she is making in speech. Here you see the French spelling and there perhaps the stressing, the way elision is working, the way mute ‘e’s vanish and so on. This really makes the point being made absolutely clear.