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.
In my study the following questions were investigated with regard to university preparatory school English language instructors:
- What are their attitudes of towards teaching pronunciation?
- 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.)
- Twenty instructors were selected by using convenience sampling.
- 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.
- This suggests that the instructors think that pronunciation teaching needs more emphasis.
Techniques used in teaching pronunciation
- 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.
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.