Monday, September 17, 2012

Scattergunning: A-systematic pronunciation instruction

Clip art: Clker

Clip art: Clker
Nice set of slides from Derwing's plenary: What should L2 learners be able to expect from their language classrooms? A research perspective. from Pronunciation Symposium at the recent ACTA conference. The current case from a research perspective for what should be the focus of pronunciation-related instruction is (as usual) well articulated. The last two slides are worth the tour through the other 62: Moving from ~ Moving to. One in particular: (Move to) "Focus mainly on problems likely to interfere with communication--as opposed to "Scattergun pedagogy, giving everything equal importance." Interesting. The idea that limited, highly selective attention to problematic targets of intelligibility is the optimal approach in integrated pronunciation instruction needs to be (re)examined carefully. One of the "casualties" of current thinking on achieving greater intelligibility for learners is disregard for the systematic nature of speech production. For example, just because final devoicing of word endings seems to be the presenting problem does not mean that rhythm, stress and intonation can be neglected--in part because re-integration of change seems to depend critically on prosodic involvement. Likewise, orienting learners briefly to "problems that they don't have" may have any number of tangible benefits, from general awareness of the sound system and "healthy" vocal production to affirmations of "Hey, I can do that!" A little integrated pronunciation "scattergunning" may not be a bad thing after all . . .  Much more on this topic later!

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