The Department of Linguistics presents
MA Thesis Defense by
Brendan Gary Terry
April 29th, 2020
An Approach to Embedding Pronunciation Instruction
Into an Intermediate-High Level ESL
Content-Based Instruction Course
For English learners, the development of pronunciation skills is crucial in order to be understood in real world contexts; to be accepted by speakers and communities; and to achieve goals in their personal, academic, and professional lives (Hewings, 2004; Lippi-Green, 1997). English language teachers also have an obvious stake in seeing their classroom instructional efforts result in intelligible speech among their learners, and speech intelligibility enjoys the full support of both researchers and teachers and is supplanting the principle of nativelikeness (Derwing & Munro, 2005; Jenkins, 2004; Levis, 2018) in English language teaching (ELT).
In order to assist English learners in meeting the pronunciation goal of intelligibility, English-teaching programs have typically included stand-alone pronunciation courses (Murphy, 2017). However, this kind of specialized course is no longer the norm within English as a second language (ESL), English as a foreign language (EFL), or English as an international language (EIL) environments (Gilbert, 2016). Instead, the researchers recommend the integration of pronunciation instruction (PI) into existing courses (Levis & Grant, 2003; Murphy, 1991). For PI to be most effective, current research clearly shows that it needs to be systematic and of long duration (Lee, Jang, & Plonsky, 2015; Levis, 2018). Many commercially available texts that focus on the development of oral language skills provide no treatment of pronunciation (e.g., Kisslinger, 2009), very limited treatment, or unsystematic ones (e.g., Chase, Johannsen, MacIntyre, Najafi, & Fettig, 2018). Rich inventories of stand-alone pronunciation teaching activities are readily available (e.g., Jones, 2017; Levis & Levis, 2016) and research studies have been carried out to investigate crucial dimensions of teaching pronunciation; however, English language teachers who wish to integrate PI into existing courses find that guidelines for accomplishing a systematic integration of pronunciation teaching into lesson planning and curriculum development are noticeably absent in the existing literature, and methods for building a robust and systematic treatment of PI over the long term are also lacking, especially relative to content-based instruction (CBI), which is systematic approach to integrating both content and language in the design of curriculum and the delivery of instruction. With CBI’s focus on connecting content concepts (Christison & Murray, 2016) and developing depth of understanding, it lends itself well to goals of PI.
The primary aims of this thesis were the following: (1) to review existing research and theories concerning PI, (2) to extract some relevant and guiding principles from the research, (3) to use the principles to develop instructional materials for a CBI course that are consistent with both the research and the principles, and (4) to provide an assessment of the process and the resulting product. The goal of PI as embraced in this project is to maximize the clarity of learner speech to make it easily understood by both native and nonnative speakers (Derwing & Munro, 1997) and not to eliminate foreign accent or to make L2 learners’ speech patterns maximally similar to those of native speakers.
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