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The Drills section brings students more deeply into a language and its grammar by leading them through progressively more complex constructions, starting with practical core vocabulary for various situations (eating, geography, religion, etc.) and continuing through verb conjugations, sentence development, and full conversations. Moving between levels and units via drop-down menus is easy. The audio quality is clear, and students can replay each sound bite slowly if needed. Among the most valuable features is the context-sensitive feedback given for users’ pronunciation. Regular repetition and quizzes offer numerous opportunities for testing users’ skills, and a statistical report lets users track their overall performance. The PDF phrasebooks are a convenient reference; some popular languages have online films, music, and poetry.
Each course follows a standard format, but some are more comprehensive than others. There are no Postcards for Malayalam, for example, and no transliterations for its written language (in contrast, Japanese and Korean have this feature). Also, users without special keyboards cannot test their writing in many languages with non-Roman scripts. Despite these omissions, Pronunciator offers sufficient content for a solid grounding in speaking each language, and often significantly more. Students will find it useful for refreshing their knowledge of a language or learning a new one. Mango Languages (CH, Jul’10, 47-6080) has a slicker presentation and more smoothly integrated cultural details, but fewer languages and instructional interfaces. Compared to Transparent Language Online (CH, Jul’12, 49-6012), Pronunciator is more flexible and has a more visually appealing look. Each product offers different languages, so librarians should carefully evaluate them according to their needs.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through professionals; general audience.
–S. L. Johnson, Eastern Illinois University
Copyright 2014 American Library Association