Monday, February 13, 2012

Instructors’ Attitudes towards Pronunciation Teaching


by Meral Çınar

As part of my EFL311 course work for Asst. Prof. Dr. A.Cendel Karaman in the METU.NCC Teaching English as a Foreign Language programme, I explored the attitudes of  language instructors  towards  teaching pronunciation  as well as the pronunciation teaching  techniques  they prefer to use  in their instruction  in an English preparatory school in North Cyprus.

The study

In my study the following questions were investigated with regard to university preparatory school English language instructors:

  1. What are their attitudes of towards teaching pronunciation? 
  2. What are the techniques they use in their instruction? 


To achieve the purpose of the study, a questionnaire, which contained six multiple
choice-types of questions  and some open ended questions, was prepared to elicit the attitudes and preferences of the instructors. (If you would like a copy of the questions, please leave a comment below.)

  1. Twenty instructors were selected by using convenience sampling. 
  2. All the respondents who participated in the survey were experienced instructors and non-native speakers of English. 

The major outcomes of this study are:

  • Four out of five instructors do not work on pronunciation as a separate and distinct language skill, but instead highlight pronunciation issues that pop up during the flow of the lesson. 
    • The lack of time was declared as a problem in  teaching pronunciation  by 44% of the participants. 
    • Three out of five instructors detect students' wrong pronunciation in class and correct them immediately. 
  • As for the material used in teaching pronunciation, it was found that that  three out of five instructors used a particular textbook  as a material in  teaching pronunciation (most probably the course textbook itself). 
    • Only  39% of them used other resources, mainly audio-video materials. 
    • About 72% of the participants use imitation of sounds and repetition of drills  as  an activity in  teaching pronunciation. 
  • Finally, for the last question  four out of five instructors stated that they thought the time they allocated to work on pronunciation was insufficient.

From the above results, it can be seen that four of out five of the teachers do not work on
pronunciation as a separate and distinct language skill.
  • This shows that pronunciation teaching is not one of the focus areas in the preparatory school surveyed. 
  • If we recall that the main purpose of the preparatory school is to bring the students to the level where they can follow the courses in their departments within a single year, then the lack of focus on pronunciation can be understood.
It is very interesting to see that the same ratio of four teachers out of five stated that they were not satisfied with the time they  allocated to teaching  pronunciation.

  • This suggests that the instructors think that pronunciation teaching needs more emphasis.

Techniques used in teaching pronunciation

Obviously, the finding that the vast majority of the instructors do not workon pronunciation as a separate and distinct language skill seems to make most of the questions related to the techniques used in teaching pronunciation  irrelevant.  But still, some information about a couple of issues can still be illuminating. For example, we  see that when instructors work on pronunciation, they tend to follow traditional tendencies in terms of activity type and material. For instance:
  • 72% of teachers use imitation of sounds
  • 61% of them use text books. 

Moreover, it can be understood that when the instructors work on pronunciation, three out of five apply  immediate error correction techniques. Nevertheless, a tendency to use video and audio materials is also seen in one out of five instructors.

Discussion

In my opinion and experience as a language learner, pronunciation teaching should indeed receive more focus because poor pronunciation is a problem that seriously limits the communication abilities of the students.
  • This also negatively affects their academic and professional success. 
  • A reasonably good pronunciation will really make the user of the  language more confident and encourage him/her to communicate more.

The fact that all of the participants stated that they did work on pronunciation in one way or another, albeit not as a separate and distinct skill focus, suggests that if necessary material and time is provided to the participants, much better results can be obtained with a relatively small effort. However, this is an issue that needs further investigation.


8 comments:

  1. A very interesting study Meral, though your findings are not at all surprising!

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
    It might be interesting to find out what the students' attitude towards direct teaching/ learning of pronunciation might be - would they like it or not?

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  2. Thank you.Yes, I aggre with you that it would be interesting to know what the students think about learning pronunciation.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. meral selam nasılsın ben hakan bahçeci

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  5. Great study do you mind if you showed me the questionnaire you used

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  6. Could you share with me your questionaire? I really need it. :0))
    Thanks you so much!

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  7. Hi Hoa Vu - can you send a way to contact you? Your email address?

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  8. Could you please share the questionaire with me ? Thank you in advance.

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