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Pronunciation Teaching Approaches: Considering the Options

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Room B35, Main Birkbeck Building, Birkbeck, University of London

Malet Street

London

WC1E 7HX

United Kingdom

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Pronunciation Teaching Approaches: Considering the Options

Professor Martha C. Pennington (SOAS)

Abstract

Pronunciation is a complex, multi-functional and multi-dimensional aspect of speech involving the ability of a speaker to perceive and produce communicatively relevant cues and contrasts in individual phonemes and larger prosodic patterns, as these relate to linguistic and broader kinds of social meaning in context, and to do so in real time while balancing a large number of other components and constraints. Pronunciation is a much more important and central aspect of communicative competence than is generally recognized, as the foundation of messaging in speech. A person’s pronunciation not only ensures the clarity required for a listener to be able to pick out words from the stream of speech and put them together in meaningful, comprehensible patterns, but also projects information about the speaker and the context of communication that makes a certain impression and establishes the common ground between speaker and listener that is needed for effective communication. Given its centrality to communication, pronunciation should be given a more significant place in language teaching and teacher education than it usually has.

The majority of language teachers have low awareness of the approaches that might be used for pronunciation teaching, and the approaches that are used often do not reflect contemporary views of the nature of pronunciation and its multi-dimensional and multi-functional nature. The presentation aims to raise language teachers’ awareness of the existing options for teaching pronunciation, including bottom-up vs. top-down approaches; segmental vs. suprasegmental approaches; form-focused vs. meaning-focused approaches; and second-language vs. multilingual or plurilingual approaches.

Bio

Martha C. Pennington holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Professorial Research Associate in Linguistics at the School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a Research Fellow in Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck College. Her pronunciation books include Phonology in English Language Teaching: An International Approach (Longman, 1996), Phonology in Context (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and (with Pamela Rogerson-Revell) English Pronunciation Teaching and Research: Contemporary Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, in press).

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Room B35, Main Birkbeck Building, Birkbeck, University of London

Malet Street

London

WC1E 7HX

United Kingdom

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