Friday, September 7, 2012

The pronunciation of vocabulary acquisition

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
There any number of studies, especially in computer assisted instruction, that include some consideration of the contribution of pronunciation instruction to vocabulary acquisition. Although it is intuitively obvious that knowing the pronunciation of a word (or attention to pronunciation while it is being learned and anchored) helps in learning its meaning and using it later--if only in writing, it is, of course, not essential, as in the case of the deaf or others who can read an L2 reasonable well but have no idea how the words are pronounced.  It has been difficult to find credible empirical research that isolates the "benefit" of pronunciation work to vocabulary acquisition. (If you know of a good study, please link it to this post.) There are many that include some kind of relatively informal student opinion response data from questionnaires on the subject such as this from Huang and colleagues at Taipei Teachers College that focus on general phonological awareness training. Likewise, the case that haptic anchoring enhances learning of new and changed sound seems a relative slam-dunk at this point but how that process also supports vocabulary acquisition may be an even more important question. Anecdotally, from our experience with the EHIEP pedagogical movement patterns and pronunciation teaching experience in general, that seems a near slam-dunk as well. So, how pronounced is your "vocabulary instruction?" More on this in upcoming posts--and hopefully a workshop at the 2013 TESOL Conference in Dallas next March! 

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