Book Review: English P.R.E.S.S.

English P.R.E.S.S., by C. C. Anodua

My review: ★★★

This is a series of books on Phonetics, Rules, Exceptions, Sounds and Spellings (P.R.E.S.S.). In other words: how to pronounce a word you’ve read, and how to predict, based on pronunciation, the spelling of a word you’ve heard. I reviewed book 4, which was about vowels and vowel diphthongs (combinations), plus a bit at the end about consonants. This book is aimed at students 8-9 years of age, though it could also be useful for people at any age for whom English is not their first language.

These books break down English pronunciation and spelling into a series of units about when letters sound one way vs. another, and why – with plenty of examples. There are examples of patterns, as well as examples of exceptions to the patterns, with explanations of when to look for the exceptions (e.g. “after a vowel it does this, at the end of a word it does that“) Each book is also a workbook – each unit contains some reading and writing exercises to help the student practice what they’ve learned.

The toughest thing about this teaching technique is all of the symbols involved – learning what symbols like /æ/ and /3:/ are supposed to sound like. That said, the examples really help show the reader how to pronounce the words they’re reading, and they can probably get along reasonably well without really memorizing those symbols. I think the book also would have been a bit better if it had an introductory section for teachers or adult readers about “how to use this book.” Perhaps that’s included in book 1.

Overall, this does seem like a good technique for teaching pronunciation and spelling, and the rich set of examples help a reader understand the patterns.

Note: I think this is Amazon’s fault, not the author’s, but the copy I received from Amazon had an entirely different book inserted, in full, in the center of this book.

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