An annotation of :      Stress in the Speech Stream (SSS) is a pronunciation text that is an invaluable resource for pronunciation teachers.  SSS has two intended audiences:  First, it is for intermediate and advanced level ESL learners who want to become more intelligible speakers of English.  It focuses on rhythm, including work on stress-timing, word stress, weak forms, contractions, blending, linking, etc.  Equally important, SSS  is intended for language specialists and teachers who want to learn about the regularities in English pronunciation and how they can be predicted through English spelling.   These two audiences contribute to the look and format of the book.  Rather than being a minimalist pronunciation text, the book is comprehensive and includes theoretical rationales as well as teaching exercises.  SSS is intended to be the primary coursebook for a course devoted to pronunciation, and it is difficult to adapt and use parts of the lessons and units without using the entire unit.  The book is carefully graded and is meant to be used from beginning to end, without jumping around.  There is enough material  in SSS to comfortably cover a two semester course.

    SSS includes exercises for perception and production of English sounds, rhythm, and melody, . . . but the most interesting (and important) feature is its focus on "prediction."  It answers some commonly held beliefs (e.g., that English spelling is capricious, that English word stress is unpredictable, and that suprasegmental pronunciation is irregular) by providing a comprehensive treatment of predictable regularities in English.  The text emphasizes formulae to predict vowel pronunciations and word stress from spelling.  SSS also includes the most up-to-date summary available of what is known about the intricacies of nucleus placement, going far beyond the presentations of given and new information found in most textbooks and other teacher resource books.

    Some potential difficulties for teachers and students using SSS are its text-intensive presentation, a prescribed teacher routine that includes directions to the teacher in the lessons, and a  heavily cognitive approach to pronunciation learning.  The book is best for advanced, motivated learners who like to learn language through the use of rules (i.e., analytic learners).                                                                 Return to Top

In a teacher training course, the text would be invaluable because of its ability to explain the regularities of English spelling.  Many of these regularities would be valuable in adapted form in any oral communication or pronunciation class.  Simply being aware of the regularities would allow teachers to answer commonly asked questions about how to connect spelling to pronunciation in English.  The text includes answers to approximately half of the problems in each exercise, so that students can self-correct.  A Teacher's Guide, which includes additional theoretical background, suggestions for presentation, review materials, texts & quizzes, and the rest of the answers, is also available.  Individual students or language labs can purchase cassette tape recordings of the materials, as well.  Videotapes of the author teaching the lessons are available, and would be invaluable in learning to teach with the book.  For information, contact the author directly (address below).

I taught pronunciation from this book for two years at the university level, and found that its approach does work.  I continue to include ideas and exercises based on SSS in all my pronunciation classes where they are among the most appreciated parts of the course.

NOTE:  SSS is temporarily out-of-print, but can be acquired through the author, Wayne Dickerson.  Address: English as an International Language, 3070 FLB, 707 S. Mathews, Urbana, IL 61801.  Phone: (217) 333-1506.  Fax  (217) 244-3050.  email:                                                                 Return to Top

Many of the same word stress and nucleus placement regularities are available in a new pronunciation book/series, Speechcraft:  Discourse Pronunciation for Advanced Learners and associated workbooks, Speechcraft:  Workbook for International TA Discourse, and Speechcraft:  Workbook for Academic Discourse, by Laura D. Hahn and Wayne Dickerson, published by the University of Michigan Press.  Extensive explanations of the word stress rules in SSS can also be found in Chapter 9 of Teaching Pronunciation (1996), by Marianne Celce-Murcia, Donna Brinton, and Janet Goodwin.  Cambridge University Press.
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