BUT HOW THEN SHOULD WE TEACH PRONUNCIATION? A TEACHER ACTION RESEARCH STUDY ON CREATING A DIALOG WITH ENGLISH AS SECOND LANGUAGE STUDENTS TO SUPPORT THEIR INTELLIGIBILITY DEVELOPMENT
University of Cincinnati (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Pronunciation has been called the “orphan” of English as a Second Language teaching. Indeed, pronunciation (or dealing with accented speech) is a thorny issue. Some would advise that learners with heavy foreign accents consider accent modification programs, but this suggestion is not without controversy. Specifically, some many question whether accent reduction, modification, or pronunciation type trainings simply reinforce to societal discrimination against accented speech, sending an inaccurate and inappropriate message that the discrimination is the victim’s fault. Certainly it is not accurate to cast accent as a “problem” of the speaker. It is significant that the listener his/herself plays a vital role in communication; sometimes listeners truly do not actually want to listen. Nevertheless there is ample evidence in the literature to suggest that even well intentioned listeners may sometimes struggle to understand accented speech and interventions can help learners achieve clearer intelligibility.
Thus, equipping English as a Second Language learners with some pronunciation tools and know-how may be an appropriate albeit delicate response to communication difficulties sometimes associated with foreign speech. After all, fundamentally, the stated goal of any foreign language program is to equip learners with the tools to make meanings clear. Yet, how can pronunciation be taught in such a way that learners achieve clear speech yet their identities are respected?
Perhaps the best way to answer this difficult question is to dialog with the learners themselves. This practitioner/teacher action research project reflects on my attempt to implement evidence-based pronunciation training in my university classroom while taking into account learners stated needs, successes, and hesitations in pronunciation learning. Important pedagogically relevant questions, such as to what extent learners view their pronunciation as limiting their communication and how can they best learn pronunciation skills have been answered through teacher journals, student video blogs, group interactive focus group type activities, and traditional qualitative student interviews. All of this data will be available for presentation at the conference.
This presentation would be highly relevant to English as a Second Language teachers.This presentation would also be relevant to educators who work with English as a Second language learners as it would help them assess international learners’ communication needs and identify possible programmatic/pedagogical remedies and referrals.
Keywords: English as a Second Language, Pronunciation, Action Research, Practitioner Action Research, Intelligibility, ESL, Teacher Action Research.