Sardegna, Veronica (University of Texas)
McGregor, Alyson (University of Texas)
Effecting Change in Pronunciation Practice Behaviors: The Learners’ Journey
Scholars have long argued that pronunciation instruction empowers learners to improve their pronunciation skills through self-monitoring and self-practice activities (Dickerson, 1994, Morley, 1991). Evidence in support of this claim has come from instructional interventions investigating pre-post gains in pronunciation accuracy after targeted pronunciation instruction (Couper, 2006; Derwing, Munro, & Wiebe, 1997; Derwing & Rossiter, 2003; Saito & Lyster, 2012; Sardegna, 2009, 2011, 2012; Sardegna & McGregor, 2013). Only recently, however, researchers have started to investigate individual learner factors contributing to the effectiveness of such interventions (Sardegna, 2012; Sardegna & McGregor, 2013). Yet, so far little is known about what motivates students to change their pronunciation practice behaviors, how students go
about changing them, and which changes facilitate or inhibit their pronunciation improvement.
This study employed a qualitative case study methodology to evaluate differences in motivation, actions, and choice of pronunciation practice behaviors between highly successful and less successful students from a fifteen-week oral proficiency course. The course raised participants’ awareness of pronunciation problems affecting their comprehensibility, provided explicit instruction on target features, modeled practice strategies demonstrating how to solve specific problems, and provided out-of-class practice opportunities. Following Patton (1990) and Yin (2003), multiple data sources were used to enhance data credibility. These data sources included open-ended and Likert-scale questionnaires, self-assessments of pronunciation progress, reflective assignments, and at-home practice trackers.
Findings revealed a multi-componential alignment of learner success factors including increased awareness and understanding of pronunciation features through teacher scaffold and guided reflections, prioritized and focus-on-form practice, choice and adoption of effective pronunciation strategies and practices, and a high motivation to improve. Results provide evidence for an alignment of success factors differentiating higher from lower achievement in pronunciation improvement, and support classroom practices based on pronunciation awareness methodology and teacher scaffold for promoting students’ pronunciation learning. Pedagogical implications will be discussed.
Sheppard, Chris (Waseda University)
The evaluation of the pronunciation component in a large scale ESP curriculum
This paper describes the process of integrating a pronunciation component into a large- scale (8,000 students) ESP curriculum. The process is based on Nation’s (2010) curriculum design framework and is implemented in a four year course in the science and engineering school at a private university in Tokyo, Japan. First, a needs analysis focusing on the components requiring improved pronunciation is described. Then, the goals of the program are discussed, followed by an explanation of the syllabus, including the teaching methodologies selected and a sample of the materials. Finally, the pronunciation component of the curriculum is evaluated.
The needs analysis determined that the science and engineering students need to be able to participate in international research groups, and international conferences. Working with international peers in these situations requires the ability to produce comprehensible pronunciation during activities like computer-mediated video conference calls, or giving a presentation through a microphone or while asking and answering questions from the floor.
To develop these abilities, it was resolved that the focus of the pronunciation education should be supra-segmental. Specific goals focus on developing stressed and unstressed sounds, timing and rhythm, and phrasing and pausing during speeches. These decisions were based on research into the comprehensibility of non-native speech (Kang, 2010 and Derwing and Munro, 1997).
In the first year the ESP curriculum focuses on developing understanding of English stress and rhythm, followed by opportunity for form focused, and then meaning focused practice. The second year develops students understanding and ability to phrase and pause appropriately during a formal presentation.
This paper ends with a brief evaluation of the attainment of the goals based on both an acoustical analysis and native-speaker evaluation of student performance, and student perception of their pronunciation improvement. These results are discussed in terms of their implication possible curriculum revision.
Sturm, Jessica (Purdue University)
Liaison in L2 French: The effects of instruction
Liaison of words with latent final consonants to words beginning with vowels has proven difficult for learners of French as an L2. Yet appropriate use of liaison is important for intelligibility as well as appropriate register. The present research examines the effect of a series of lessons introducing and explaining liaison on intermediate learners of L2 French. Two groups of FR 301 (5th semester) students recorded a text at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester. One group received explicit liaison instruction while the other did not. Results are interpreted in light of Schmidt’s (1990; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1995; 2001) and Robinson’s (1995; 2003) work on attention and awareness in L2 learning.
Tanner, Mark (Brigham Young University)
Bashford, Andrew (Brigham Young University)
Do Oral Corrective Feedback Practices Differ Between ESL and EFL Teachers?
Inherent in the pedagogical purpose of second language teachers is the objective to help students achieve their language learning goals as efficiently and effectively as possible (Evans, Hartshorn, & Strong-‐Krause, 2011). When these goals include confident, clear, and intelligible communication, instruction frequently includes the use of corrective feedback. It is through this feedback that the learner begins to identify aspects of his speech that need to be retained, modified, or replaced to enhance intelligibility and the communication of the intended message. Research into oral corrective feedback practices over the past twenty years has shown that teachers use a variety of feedback types in the second language classroom, which can be grouped into three main categories: recasts, explicit correction, and prompts (Lyster & Saito, 2010).
What is unknown is the extent to which research into effective oral corrective feedback practices is actually informing teacher beliefs and practices in the oral communication classroom. This data is especially important knowing that in most second language classrooms, the teacher is the only proficient speaker who not only interacts with a large number of learners (Spada and Lightbown, 2009), but also provides the model of the target language.
This presentation will report on a study that gathered survey data from more than 250 ESL and EFL instructors with the purpose of exploring their specific beliefs and pedagogical behaviors with regards to the types and frequency of oral corrective feedback they provide in their L2 classroom. The study will share data identifying the extent to which teachers in different teaching contexts were aware of and implemented techniques that SLA research has identified as pedagogically sound. The presentation will conclude by sharing ways that practitioners can modify their instructional practices to ensure that oral corrective feedback is being provided to learners in a way that will better facilitate intelligible, confident, and competent communication in the second language classroom.
Thomson, Ron (Brock University)
Phonological memory, speech perception and oral fluency
Phonological Memory (PM), a sub-component of working memory (Baddeley, 1986, 2000), is known to play an important function in first language (L1) acquisition. PMÅs role in L2 development is also increasingly well attested. For example, PM is predictive of L2 vocabulary size (Masoura & Gathercole, 2005), grammatical ability (French & O’Brien, 2008), and general L2 proficiency (Dufva & Voeten, 1996; French, 2006). There is also preliminary evidence that PM and L2 speech perception may be linked (i.e., Aliaga-Garcia et al., 2011), as well as PM and L2 oral fluency (O’Brien et al., 2007).
The present study examines interrelations between PM, L2 English speech perception, and L2 English oral fluency. Thirty low proficiency English learners enrolled in drip feed language classes in Colombia (i.e., 1-2 hours per week) completed a counterbalanced sequence of tests of PM, including Serial Non Word Recognition tasks (using prompts comprising L1 Spanish, L2 English, and unfamiliar Arabic phonological patterns), an English nonword repetition task (recorded digitally), a high variability English vowel identification task (e.g., Thomson, 2012), and a picture story description task. Results indicate that PM is partially language specific and that better PM is strongly correlated with more accurate perception of L2 sounds. PM is also weakly related to oral fluency. Implications for language training will be discussed, including means for improving L2 PM by targeting improvement in L2 speech perception.
Vokic, Gabriela (Southern Methodist University)
Statistical Learning in L2 Phonology:
Production of Word-Final Stop Codas in L2 English
Statistical learning is an experience-dependent sensitivity to regularities in the language input that allows speakers to track both simple (e.g. frequency count) and more complex patterns (e.g. conditional probability) with the purpose of discovering the underlying structure of language and is a well-attested phenomenon in L1 learning (Romeberg & Saffran, 2010). The research question that guided this study was whether L2 learners are susceptible to the same kind of statistical information in the L2 input, in particular at the phonological level.
To determine whether L2 learners are sensitive to frequency effects of L2 sounds, this study analyzed the production of word-final stop codas in L2 English by Spanish native speakers with advanced proficiency in L2. In addition to being non-existent in L1 Spanish, word-final stop codas constitute typologically marked structures, although voiceless stops are less marked in this position than voiced stops. As such, these structures are known to resist L2 phonological acquisition and postpone or even escape ultimate attainment.
Data were collected from fourteen adult naive native speakers of Chilean Spanish with advanced proficiency in English as L2 (as determined by TOEIC) using a digital recorder Marantz CDR 420 and a cardioid microphone Shure Beta 54. Stimuli consisted of relatively frequent (as determined by SUBTELEXus) English CVC monosyllabic content words with voiceless and voiced stop codas in word-final position. There were three stimuli per stop segment, amounting to a total of 18 tokens (9 voiceless and 9 voiced). Three out of four repetition sets were incorporated into analysis. Thus, a total of 72 tokens per participant and an overall total of 1008 tokens were analyzed. Data were analyzed perceptually and inter-rater agreement was reached for 93% of the tokens analyzed. Finally, a descriptive statistical analysis was conducted and a paired samples t-test was performed to determine the significance level of the results.
Results showed a target sound occurrence rate of 96.1% for voiceless stop codas in word-final position and a markedly lower occurrence rate of 26.2% in the production of voiced stop codas in the same position among Spanish-native learners of English as L2. Results obtained for individual coda segments showed the highest success rate in the production of /t/ in word-final codas, followed in decreasing order by /k, /p/, /d/, /g/, and /b/. Although between-group results (i.e. voiced vs. voiceless stops in word-final position) suggest a typological markedness effect, results by individual stop segment reveal a ranking that significantly overlaps with the frequency of occurrence of stop segments in the coda position in L1 English reported by Treiman and Kessler (1997), thus suggesting that sensitivity to high frequency linguistic structures and the ability to extract this statistical information from speech, attested in L1 speech and attributed to L1 speakers only, is potentially operative in L2 learners as well. In addition, the findings of this study coincide with previous research on L2 coda acquisition in that among these advanced L2 English learners feature change was the most frequently employed coda modification strategy employed by advanced L2 learners, but the results diverge from previous research in that evidence was not found for the claim that content words and the formal nature of the task correlate with native-like production of word-final stop codas.
Zetterholm, Elisabeth (Linnaeus University)
The Girlfriend or the Girl’s Friend: Karen Speakers’ L1 attribute transfer to L2s—a conversational problem.
This study raises questions about pronunciation transfer from L1s to L2s and provides observations on the difficulty in changing articulation habits when learning a new language. In one previous study it is shown that L1 speakers of Karen have problems with the pronunciation of final stops in Swedish words. The speakers had studied Swedish as their second language and lived in Sweden for several years. Speakers of Karen, a Sino-‐Tibetan language, do not pronounce final stops or nasals in their native language and therefore one suggestion of that study might be that this tendency transfers from L1 to L2. To explore this transfer hypothesis, Karen people in Minneapolis, USA, learning American English as their L2 were recorded. The recordings consisted of both spontaneous speech and sentences, read aloud, and written specifically for this study. These L2-‐learners of different ages have lived in the USA between 6 months and 15 years. They have all studied English, some of them for quite a short time, but others for a longer period of time. The results show that many of the L2-‐ learners of English have similar problems as Karen speakers learning Swedish as an L2, namely, with the pronunciation of final consonants, especially fricatives and nasals. For example, the speakers do not pronounce the final /s/ in words like girls and girl’s which can cause conversation problems. The fricative /s/ is of importance in English for its role in the grammatical form of the genitive as well as being a marker of distinction between singular and plural. These results strengthen the transfer hypothesis between L1 and L2 for learners with Karen as their native language. However, there are individual differences in both the Swedish and the American English L2-‐learners, but no clear correlation with the speaker’s age or length of time in country.
Al-Mahmoud, Mahmoud (Imam University)
A Test of the Speech Learning Model: Non-native Acquisition of Arabic Sounds
This paper reports on second language (L2) acquisition of non-native sounds. The study examines American learners’ ability to acquire Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) consonants natively. In particular, the production of Arabic consonants that are either identical to, similar to, or different from English by American learners of Arabic is tested against the hypotheses of Flege’s (1988, 1992, 1995) Speech Learning Model (SLM). A reading task elicited L2 non-native productions, which were later judged by two native speakers of Arabic for their proximity to the native norm. Preliminary results show that while Arabic consonants that are believed to be identical to English presented no clear learning difficulty, consonants that are similar or completely new to English posed a serious challenge. The findings are interpreted in light of the predictions made by the Speech Learning Model; only partial evidence for the SLM can be instantiated by AE learners’ production of English-identical Arabic consonants as judged by the raters.
Al-Shahrani, Merzin (King Khalid University)
Chan, Kimberly (University of Toronto)
Nonnative or Native: Do students in an upper-intermediate EAP course have a preference?
A small number of studies have addressed the debate comparing native English speaker teachers (NESTs) and non-native English speaker teachers (NNESTs). However, most of the studies focused on teacher rather than student opinions. The present study examine ESL students’ perceptions of NEST and NNEST professionals/teachers in Australia - to ascertain whether they are negative as many administrators believe, or more positive as found in recent academic research. A total of 10 adult students, from various language backgrounds, were asked to participate in this study. They registered in an upper-intermediate EAP course, at a private English institute in Sydney. The data were collected by asking students to write their opinions to a stimulus question. Their responses to the question were analyzed using a discourse analytic technique. The results of analysis indicated the following main findings: 1) NESTs emerged as superior in the teaching of oral skills (Speaking and Pronunciation). 2) NNESTs received the highest praise for their grammar teaching skills in the “linguistic factor” group. 3) There is a clear preference for NNESTs at all level of personal factors (Experience as a L2 learner and Affect ). The majority of the participants, although they see and acknowledge NNESTs’ strengths, prefer attending classes taught by native speakers. native speakers seem to maintain an advantage over their non-native counterparts. More attitudinal research needs to be conducted to determine what specific factors are influencing the students’ perceptions of both NNESTs and NESTs.
Busa, M. Grazia (University Of Padova)
Stella, Antonio (University Of Salerno)
The Acquisition of English L2 Prosody by Italian Native Speakers: Experimental Data and Pedagogical Implications
There is growing awareness of the importance of prosody for L2 communication. However, L2 prosody is still undertaught in the L2 classroom. There are a number of reasons for this, including that much is still to be known about L1 and L2 prosody and learners’ L2 prosody acquisition.
To develop methods and materials for enhancing teaching and learning L2 prosody it is necessary to gain more knowledge about L2 prosody and learners’ acquisition processes. Particularly, it is important to establish how, in the process of L2 acquisition, prosodic features are transferred from the L1 to the L2 and how they affect L2 speakers’ intelligibility and communication.
Prosodic transfer has been shown to occur in L2 learners’ speech even after considerable exposure to the L2 (Mennen, 2007). Also, phonological and phonetic features of L2 intonation may be subjected to different acquisition rules: while L2 learners may eventually be able to acquire the phonology of L2 prosody, they may rarely acquire the phonetics (Ueyama, 1997; Mennen, 2007; Stella, 2012).
This paper investigates intonation patterns of Yes-No questions in Italian L1, English L1 and English L2. The study aims to: 1) provide a description of the varieties under investigation; 2) throw light on learners’ L2 intonation acquisition strategies; 3) investigate the perceptual effects of learners’ L2 intonation. The results of this study will contribute to both general and applied linguistics theory as well as English L2 pedagogy.
For the production study, the corpus consists of 4 target Italian words and 4 comparable English words, all consisting of sonorant segments, and stressed on the antepenultimate or the penultimate syllable (for Italian: Melania, Banane, Lamina, Mobile; for English: Memorial, Banana, Normandy, Memory). The words were contained in mini-dialogues of question-answer pairs, and read 5 times by 4 Italian speakers (Padova area, North-East Italy) and 3 English female speakers (London area, UK). The analysis focuses on the nuclear intonation contours (pitch accent and edge tone) of the target words occurring in sentence-final position in Yes-No questions (e.g., Italian: Hai sentito la Melania?; English: Will you attend the memorial?).
The results provide evidence of the fact that 1) speakers can choose from different alternative intonation patterns to realize the same grammatical function; 2) speakers may acquire the correct phonological categories of the L2 intonation but may implement them transferring the phonetic features of their L1; 3) phonetic and phonological details of the L2 intonation may be acquired at different stages in the L2 development, with phonological categories being acquired earlier than phonetic ones.
The perceptual studies, aimed to investigate the communicative effects of the observed variation, are in progress. This study shows that phonetic-phonological analyses can provide important details on the learning processes of L2 intonation. It is the authors’ belief that, as more data on L2 prosody becomes available, an impulse to the development of appropriate methods and materials for teaching it will follow.
Mennen, Ineke. “Phonological and Phonetic Influences in Non-Native Intonation.” In Jurgen Trouvain and Ulrike Gut, Eds. Non-native Prosody: Phonetic Descriptions and Teaching Practice, 53-76. The Hague: Mouton De Gruyter, 2007.
Stella, Antonio. Allineamento Articolatorio dei Toni nella Produzione dell'Intonazione L2. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Università del Salento, Lecce (Italy). 2012.
Ueyama, Motoko. “The Phonology and Phonetics of Second Language Intonation: The Case of “Japanese English””. In Proceedings of the 5th European Speech Conference, 2411-2414. 1997.
Crabtree, Janey (University of Virginia)
Putting It All Together: From Pronunciation Analysis to Pronunciation Pedagogy
Pronunciation research states that intelligibility and comprehensibility can change without a shift in accent (Munro & Derwing, 1995), but do TESOL teacher trainees (TTs) internalize this research, and how do they put this knowledge into practice to devise effective plans for language learners who may still have features that are affecting comprehensibility?
In this paper, the analysis of one speaker and plans for that speaker are examined from eleven TTs. All TTs were aware of the research and terms covering intelligibility, comprehensibility, and accent as well as functional load (Munro & Derwing, 2006). All TTs analyzed the same speech sample (a Vietnamese male speaker, age 21) from the George Mason Speech Archives website (Weinberger, 2014), and then wrote hypothetical lesson plans based on their analysis. While many of the TTs focused on greater comprehensibility, particularly those elements listed in Linda Grant's (2001) pronunciation profile in the Well Said: Pronunciation for Clear Communication text as well as guidelines for comprehensibility outlined by Isaacs and Trofimovich (2012), comments in the TTs' analyses as well as plans devised to address pronunciation issues suggest that TTs are not quite sure what features are tied to accent and what features to focus on to make learners more intelligible & comprehensible. Findings suggest that more rigorous training and discussion of comprehensibility and intelligibility as well as unpacking of these terms needs to be conducted for teachers in training.