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M. Orii1, K. Oga2

1Waseda University (JAPAN)
2Hokkaido University of Education (JAPAN)
This paper discusses necessary and effective pronunciation-related in-service training for teachers of the English language at various school levels. We examine how an Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-supported pronunciation training program can help teachers improve their pronunciation.

Experimental training was conducted for in-service teachers at a license renewal training seminar using pronunciation training software. The one-day seminar comprised 6 hours of teaching time and was conducted with 38 in-service teachers (elementary, junior high school, and high school). The training included 3 hours of informative courses (face-to-face lectures) and 3 hours of a performance course (ICT-supported software training and a shadowing activity with the instructor).

A questionnaire comprising 15 questions was distributed after the seminar, asking participants about their background (e.g. age, current position, educational background) and their views on English pronunciation and its teaching, as well as questions concerning the use of pronunciation training software.

We found that desire to improve pronunciation increased with teaching experience. Moreover, experienced teachers were more interested in using pronunciation software. Although training programs are often targeted at younger and/or less experienced teachers, it seems important to provide them for experienced teachers as well. Since we found that experienced teachers have little resistance toward ICT-supported programs, software can be an effective means to provide teachers the training they need and want.

We then compared elementary school teachers with junior and senior high school teachers. Although elementary school teachers did not undergo formal university training to teach English, they also acknowledged the importance of pronunciation, maintained an equal level of confidence in their pronunciation, and expressed a desire to improve their pronunciation and also their interest in using pronunciation training software. The results show the high potential of elementary school teachers concerning pronunciation and its teaching.

Results of correlational analysis of educational background and views on pronunciation showed that learning phonetics and phonology made teachers more confident in their pronunciation and also open to using pronunciation software. This exhibits the importance of providing prospective teachers pronunciation instruction when they are initially trained at the university. While only one third of the teachers are confident with their pronunciation, nearly all of them expressed a desire to improve their pronunciation, and also view pronunciation as an important part of communication. They wanted to improve their pronunciation, to be a good model for their students and also to communicate effectively.

Nearly all of the teachers exhibited an interest in using the software, and the most frequent reasons were that they do not have the opportunity for in-person training, and they can practice more than with in-person training. We also found that to impart effective training, the software should provide efficacious feedback that closely agrees with sound judgment, which in turn is related to the perceived effectiveness of the software from the users. In conclusion, we highlight the significant effects of ICT on pronunciation-related teacher training programs and the necessity of developing such programs.