TESOL HIGHLIGHTS (Part 2 – Pronunciation)

While at the TESOL convention, I also attended sessions regarding pronunciation teaching. I was delighted to see research being carried out in this field. However, I wish there were more studies on teacher training, which I did not see this year. Moreover, the following are some sessions I attended that are worth mentioning:

Research-oriented session: “Prosodic Syllable Lengthening of NNESTs and Their L2 Experiences”
In their research report, Franks, Spezzini and Prado presented their findings on a study regarding syllable lengthening of NNES (Non-native English Speakers). Even though I have focused on pronunciation teaching, this is an aspect I had not really pondered on. During the session, the speakers asked the audience to identify which syllables were the longest in a set of four syllable words. There was a general belief that the syllable that is stressed is the one that is the longest, which is what the theory of pronunciation said. But this study, which was carried out with 34 participants who were recorded and timed in their pronunciation of the words (tokens) chosen for this study, showed that the stressed syllable was not always the longest, which made me wonder about the theory vs real speech.

TESOL in focus session: “Pronunciation in the Classroom: The Overlooked Essential”
In this session, different presenters –Tamara Jones, William Acton, Veronica Sardegna, John Murphy, Marnie Reed, Minah Woo, Monika Floyd, Rebecca Price and Kay Ahmad- introduced how pronunciation instruction can be incorporated in skills instruction such as grammar, listening, vocabulary and reading, among others.

The main focus was to promote the book (which bears the same name as the session) that, of course, Ipron book literally ran out and bought. My first thought was: well, it’s about time a book focused on how to integrate pronunciation into different skills. I especially loved that they mentioned reading, since I’ve mentioned the connection of reading and pronunciation in my own workshops. This connection does not seem obvious sometimes, but it is through pronunciation (phonological awareness and phonics) that we learn to read and write, so I’m glad someone has started to write about making this connection in teaching contexts other than for learning the reading and writing learning process.

 

Research-oriented session:
“The Supra Tutor: Development  and Evaluation of Online Pronunciation Instruction”.
In her research, Edna Lima developed a four-week online pronunciation course for students called “The Supra Tutor”. This course focused on suprasegmental features (word stress, rhythm and intonation). To read more about her research, you can access her dissertation here.

I really enjoyed this session as it is connected to my academic work and my own research, so I could relate to all the work she had to put into designing a course and analyzing all the data collected. I had the opportunity to talk to Edna after the session and she mentioned having a book chapter in press ( Lima, E. F., & Levis, J. M.  [in press].  An online ‘pronunciation tutor’ at Iowa State University.In J. Murphy [Ed.], Teaching the pronunciation of English:  Focus on whole courses. Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press.) I will be attentive to its publication.

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