SPLIS News, Volume 7:2 (October 2010)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter from the SPLIS Chair Holly Gray
    • Message from SPLIS editors Amanda Huensch and Carolyn Quarterman
  • Articles
    • Pronunciation as Orphan: What Can Be Done?
    • Does Pronunciation Instruction Promote Intelligibility and Comprehensibility?
    • Do You Speak American English?
    • TESOL 2010 SPLIS Presentation Summaries
  • Community News and Information
    • TESOL 2011 Colloquium Announcement
    • What Is the SPLIS Interest Section?
    • Join TESOL Interest Sections for Free
    • Call for Submissions

Leadership Updates Letter from the SPLIS Chair Holly Gray

Holly Gray, SPLIS Chair, 2010-2011, hgray@gvenglish.com

Dear splendid SPLIS members,

It's been such a busy year, and it's only August! The Boston convention has come and gone, and, despite the somewhat chilly weather, it was a success. Thank you to all who represented SPLIS, whether by presenting, volunteering, or attending (or all three!). Already, it seems like the 2011 convention is right around the corner, and the steering committee has been working hard to put together a great selection for attendees. We'll have more than 30 SPLIS presentations, discussions, workshops, and poster sessions, both from well-known and well-loved SPLIS veterans and from some exciting new SPLIS talent. We'll be seeing some new presentation formats as well, including 20-minute teaching tips and hot topics. Our incoming chair, Gary Carkin, has organized a fantastic Academic Session entitled "Finding a Place for Pronunciation: Past, Present, and Future." SPLIS is also partnering with the Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL (NNEST) IS to bring you an InterSection examining the issues related to the training, employment, and support of nonnative speakers who teach (or hope to teach) speech, pronunciation, and/or listening. It looks like exploring the relationship between speech, pronunciation, listening, and technology is a continuing trend, so convention attendees will have ample opportunity to learn about new programs and techniques.

I am incredibly grateful to the many people who volunteered to read proposals in June and July--especially those who stepped in last-minute to fill in, despite a few technical blips. We couldn't have gotten it done without your diligence, flexibility, humor, and good will. (Each person who volunteered should have received a personal e-mail thank-you from me, so if you did volunteer and never heard back, please forgive us. A few missives may have gotten lost in cyberspace, but we appreciate every single one of you.)

If you wanted to volunteer but were unable to help with the proposal-reading process, we still are always looking for help in other areas of SPLIS. You can contact me directly or check out our Web site, www.tesol-splis.org, for volunteering opportunities, and, if you haven't already, pencil in March 16-19, 2011. We'd love to see you in New Orleans!


Message from SPLIS editors Amanda Huensch and Carolyn Quarterman

Amanda Huensch, huensch@illinois.edu, and Carolyn Quarterman, cquarter@earthlink.net

Dear Fellow SPLIS Members,

Greetings! We hope you have enjoyed your summers and are gearing up for whatever your fall teaching activities may be.

We are pleased to announce the publication of this year's second edition of the SPLIS newsletter. In addition to containing articles on the history, teaching, and researching of SPLIS-related topics, you will also note a new addition: abstracts from TESOL 2010 presentations. We know that some of you were not able to attend this year, so you can catch up on what you missed by reading about some of the presentations and contacting the authors for further information.

We have also included an announcement for a colloquium to be held during TESOL 2011 that promises to be both engaging and informative. As you start out your school years, we hope you will look ahead to the 2011 convention to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Finally, we hope you will also consider submitting to our next edition of the As We Speak newsletter. Submissions could include book reviews, a description of a teaching experience with some new technology or technique, or a summary of some of your research or a presentation you've given. If you have ideas or suggestions for future newsletters, please e-mail us. We'd love to hear from you!

Here's wishing you a productive and fruitful fall!

Amanda and Carolyn

Articles Pronunciation as Orphan: What Can Be Done?

Judy B. Gilbert, Consultant, judygilbert@comcast.net

Pronunciation continues to be the EFL/ESL orphan. Here is some history - the dates show the persistence of the problem. The geographic range of the studies (the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Poland and Spain) shows the problem is world-wide. Following the history are some suggested remedies.


The PronSIG

IATEFL, TESOL's sister organization, has had a Phonology Special Interest Group (PronSIG) for more than 20 years.

In 1994 the PronSIG committee debated changing the name of its newsletter to refer to "pronunciation" rather than "phonology." Some committee members were concerned that this might lessen the seriousness of the newsletter, but others felt that the word "phonology" might be intimidating to teachers who would thus miss the benefit of the articles available in Speak Out! In the end, the committee decided that it was important to encourage teachers to read the newsletter. In issue 13, in 1994, the editor wrote that he was reluctant to change the word because "for many people the term 'pronunciation' means simply "the articulation of vowels and consonants" (p.3). But he assured readers that the newsletter would continue to cover all aspects.


In 1995, inspired by the PronSIG, a group of TESOL members began a campaign to win approval of the Speech, Pronunciation, and Listening Interest Section. After 3 years of genuine struggle, we finally were authorized to have our first meeting in 1998. Commenting on this development, Marks wrote, "In SPLIS, pronunciation is explicitly linked to listening and to speech. . . . [Whereas] in IATEFL, there's no 'listening' or 'speech' SIG¯pronunciation is on its own, which perhaps supports the perception that P has nothing to do with L and S, and/or that P is special but L and S aren't" (personal communication, July 2009). However, the problem remained. In 2005 Derwing and Munro concluded that

Despite teachers' increased interest in pronunciation in recent years, as evidenced by the establishment of a TESOL interest section and a proliferation of pronunciation materials for learners, it remains a very marginalized topic in applied linguistics. (p. 382)


In 1987, Morley wrote:

Beginning in the late 1960's and continuing into the 1970's there was a significant decrease in the amount of time and explicit attention devoted to pronunciation teaching in English programs for second and foreign language learners. While publications of textbooks in a wide variety of other ESL/EFL areas mushroomed, very few new pronunciation books appeared on the market, and those most widely circulated can be counted on the fingers of one hand. (p. 1)

Clearly, pronunciation has not been integrated into ESL/EFL teaching. In 1986, Marks had commented that "Few teachers, probably, would claim that they do not teach grammar or vocabulary, on the grounds that they are either too difficult or else not sufficiently important. Yet these are the kinds of comments which many teachers make with regard to the teaching of phonology" (p. 9). Five years later, Brown said much the same thing: "Pronunciation has sometimes been referred to as the 'poor relation' of the English language teaching (ELT) world" (p. 1). And 11 years later, Macdonald surveyed teachers about their reluctance to teach pronunciation and listed their reasons:

The absence of pronunciation in curricula . . . a lack of suitable teaching and learning materials of a high quality . . . an absence of a skills and assessment framework with which to map student ability and progress in this area. . . . In short, pronunciation does not appear to have a central and integrated position within the ESL curricula of the teachers interviewed. (p. 7)

Seven years later, one of my colleagues quoted a fellow teacher as saying "But pronunciation is SO boring!" and added her own conclusion: "I am quite sure that all she knew about teaching pron was minimal pair sound drills. Yes, quite boring for everyone, because they were on a path to nowhere."


In 1991, Bradford and Kenworthy asked 33 British ESL teachers, "How well did your EFL teacher training prepare you for teaching pronunciation?" Over half the responses were negative. The dissatisfaction mainly related to the emphasis on theory instead of practical application.

In 1997 Murphy surveyed MA programs in TESL in the United States and described considerable variation in course offerings related to phonology. He commented:

In sum, the survey findings illuminate instructors' tendencies to focus on how segmental and suprasegmental features operate within and across phonological systems. Some attention was given to pedagogical considerations, though such efforts seem relatively low on instructors' lists of priorities.

In 1999, Walker conducted a survey of 350 English teachers in Spain. Although 65% of those surveyed were eager for their students to pronounce English well, he reported that 75% of the survey respondents admitted to "having received little or no specialist training in the teaching of pronunciation" (p. 25).

In 2001, Breitkreutz, Derwing, and Rossiter surveyed 67 ESL programs in Canada and found that only 30% of instructors interviewed had any training in pronunciation (p. 56). In 2002 Derwing and Rossiter interviewed 100 adult ESL students in Canada and found that, although half perceived that pronunciation was a contributing factor to their communication problems, only 8 reported ever having taken a pronunciation course. The authors commented that learners' perceptions of their own pronunciation difficulties did not match the current practice in instruction and concluded: "This mismatch suggests that they are either not getting instruction or, if they are, they are not benefiting from it" (p. 161). On reading this, Cruz-Ferreira said, "From what I've observed, multilingual learners suffer the same pronunciation fate as their monolingual peers" (personal communication, 2009).

Over the past 10 years many researchers have found that students feel they should have had more help with pronunciation. Significantly, at the same time that many teachers felt they were not given adequate training, they also reported that they didn't like teaching it (Breitkreutz et al., 2001; Kanellou, 2009; Macdonald, 2002; Walker, 1999; Warren, Elgort, & Crabbe, 2009).

Brown, while lamenting the small amount of attention given to pronunciation in ELT classrooms, suggested reasons why this may be the case, but added,

On a historical note, it could be pointed out that this gap between theory and practice has not always existed. At its outset at the end of the last [19th] century, the membership of the International Phonetic Association (IPA) was essentially language teachers (of English and other European languages) who were concerned with the description of pronunciation. (p. 3)

What caused the change in attention? In 2000, Fraser summarized the recent history of pronunciation in her research report for the Australian Adult Literacy National Project, explaining:

In the post-war boom in English language teaching during the 1950s and 1960s, there was a huge focus on pronunciation - in the form of behaviouristic drilling of sound contrasts and word pairs, with a strong emphasis on the articulation of individual sounds and little attention to rhythm and intonation, or the practice of realistic conversations. . . . This approach came into disfavour in the 1970s with the development of communicative methods. From then on, the focus was on communication and the use of language in real situations. This was in general a good thing, but it had one unfortunate side effect¯the almost complete ignoring of pronunciation. Pronunciation was so strongly associated with the 'drill and kill' methods that it was deliberately downplayed. . . . Phonetics and phonology courses were gradually dropped from many teacher training programs and pronunciation was, in general, covered briefly if at all. (p. 33)

Marks, later remarking on the development of the communicative approach, wrote, "There's a paradox connected with the notion of 'communicative'-ness. The communicative approach tended to downplay the importance of accuracy in general, but somehow overlooked the fact that pronunciation is an immediate barrier to communication unless it has a certain degree of accuracy, in the sense of conformity to some recognised/recognisable system" (personal correspondence, 2009).

Fraser's analysis then explained that the pendulum has been swinging back in the past 10 years, but because of the long neglect, there was less available knowledge and "many teachers and educators understandably turned to phonetics and phonology to learn more about pronunciation" (p.42). However, it is not easy to make information available in phonology textbooks relevant to pronunciation teaching. She concluded, "It will be clear that there is a burning need for an increase in the amount of serious research at all levels to allow methods and policies to be assessed for their effectiveness" (p. 42).


In 2005, Derwing and Munro wrote, "The study of pronunciation has been marginalized within the field of applied linguistics. As a result, teachers are often left to rely on their own intuitions with little direction" (p. 379). They described the problem of making research useful for these teachers:

An extensive, growing literature on L2 speech has been published in journals that focus on speech production and perception, for example Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. . . .Yet this work is rarely cited or interpreted in teacher-oriented publications. [ELT] researchers may not be aware of this literature in part because it is inaccessible to those without specialized knowledge of phonetics. Moreover, some of the research may not be perceived as practical because it has been carried out under strict laboratory conditions, so that it is not immediately clear how the findings apply to the classroom. (p. 382)

In 2006, Couper reviewed the lack of practical guidance from research and concluded that "This lack of research and consequent lack of training has meant that some teachers have serious misgivings about the effectiveness of teaching pronunciation at all" (p. 47).


In 1991, Brown counted the number of articles on pronunciation in the International Review of Applied Linguistics, Language Learning, TESOL Quarterly, andELT Journal over the period 1975 to 1988 and concluded that "At best, the number of articles constitutes 11.9 percent" (p. 3).

Eighteen years later, Deng et al. studied the percentage of ESL pronunciation articles of 14 relevant professional journals over 10 years (1999-2008) and wrote, "It's fair to say that pronunciation is still underrepresented in the literature." Part of their list is shown below (p. 2).



Language Learning


Modern Language Journal


Studies in Second Language Acquisition


Applied Linguistics


TESL Canada



When teachers manage to find time to address pronunciation, the instruction often amounts to the practice of a series of tedious and seemingly unrelated topics. Drilling sounds over and over often leads to discouraging results; discouraged students and teachers alike end up wanting to avoid pronunciation altogether.

Psychological factors affect the learning of pronunciation in ways that are not so true of studying grammar or vocabulary. For one thing, the most basic elements of speaking are deeply personal. Our sense of self and community is bound up in the speech-rhythm of our first language (L1). These rhythms were learned in the first year of life and are deeply rooted. Therefore, it is common for students to feel uneasy when they hear themselves speak with the rhythm of the L2.

A teacher can help overcome this psychological barrier by thinking of the goal of pronunciation instruction not as helping students to sound like native speakers but as helping them to learn the core elements of spoken English so that they can be easily understood by others. In other words the frustrations and boredom often associated with the subject can be avoided by focusing attention on the development of pronunciation that is "listener friendly." After all, English pronunciation does not amount to mastery of a list of sounds or isolated words but to learning the specifically English way of making a speaker's thoughts easy to follow. Teachers should be taught to think of providing "accent addition" rather than "accent reduction." The psychology of this concept is quite different from the "stain removal" approach.

English teachers also need to be helped to understand that other languages rely on different concepts. For instance, all languages must have a means of showing emphasis, but few depend on the conversational signals of pitch and timing as much as English does. These prosodic signals act as "road signs" for the listener and are crucial to helping the listener to follow. Teachers, who may use prosodic cues automatically, need to understand that these are not natural, but learned. Also, teachers need to know that the abstract conventions of languages are different, so learners have to do more than just listen to the sounds. Couper gives examples of these different conventions; for example, "It is easy to forget that the concept of what does and does not constitute a syllable varies widely across languages, and is consequently quite difficult to understand" (p. 53).


There need to be major changes in teacher training, materials available, appropriate supporting research, and curricula. Most of the studies of teacher reluctance make clear that training should involve a more practical presentation of the subject, rather than what is essentially a catalogue of abstract concepts and terminology. When I taught pronunciation methods classes, I required the students to teach a real lesson to real students the week before each Saturday session. They all taught the same assigned lesson and then discussed the results-in this way they learned that the same lesson could go quite differently. This comparison seemed to me the most valuable part of the course. Derwing follows a similar approach with a tutoring assignment in her Teaching Pronunciation course. She wrote, "I see it as an integral part of the course because I can't teach my students in a vacuum. They need to be working with someone who has intelligibility problems as we talk about how to deal with these problems" (personal correspondence, 2009). Fraser (2001) similarly presents a "workshopping" method in her training handbook.

Teacher-training books should provide written case studies, such as those in Chapter 7 of the second edition of Teaching Pronunciation (Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin, 2010). This chapter presents the pedagogical challenges of a number of different, and quite realistic, teaching settings (for example, Case Study 2: Italian middle-school students or Case Study 6: Indian call-center employees). This approach can help teachers to think about the curricular implications of teaching pronunciation to different student populations. Another resource is in training programs that use actual teaching situations, such as the training program by Meyers and Holt (1997).

A necessary reinforcement would come from increased attention to pronunciation in basal texts. Commonly the subject is addressed in a scattered way, as an add-on. Because it isn't integrated into the coursebooks, it tends to be skipped by teachers who always have a lot to cover. Also, the types of pronunciation activities offered in course books should be less limited. Rossiter, Derwing, Manimtim, and Thomson (forthcoming) recently surveyed the types of fluency activities in 28 learner texts and 14 teacher resources. They concluded that there was too much reliance on free production and too little explicit instruction-and they describe a variety of activities to promote fluency in the ESL classroom.

A new source of reinforcement comes from technology. Levis and Pickering (2004) wrote:

Intonation, long thought to be a key to effectiveness in spoken language, is more and more commonly addressed in English language teaching through the use of speech visualization technology. While the use of visualization technology is a crucial advance in the teaching of intonation, such teaching can be further enhanced by connecting technology to an understanding of how intonation functions in discourse. (p. 505)

Another way to help give teachers confidence is to provide a simple framework to understand how pronunciation is a coherent system, not just a list of abstractions. Learners first need control of the basic prosodic system. Below is the image I use to explain the most basic interrelationship of rhythm, pitch, and individual sounds. The foundation of the pyramid is the thought group/tone group. The peak of information is the main stressed syllable of the focus word. The peak syllable must be clear: The vowel is lengthened and there is a pitch change on the vowel. These cues call attention to the peak of information.

(Gilbert, 2009)

Once the concept of the pyramid is understood, the individual elements can then be studied, in reference to a template sentence in which they are naturally embedded. For example, the peak syllable in the sentence below is "ea." The template should be repeated enough so that the whole piece is well fixed in long-term memory (Kjellin, 1999).

How do you spell "easy"?

This short sentence can then be used as a memory resource to study individual elements: word stress, pitch change to show focus emphasis, syllable number (easy vs. ease), and contractions (d'you is also a syllable number example). Template sentences can also help to correct persistent word order problems, such as "What means that?"

As for the individual sounds, I think the top priority should be given to the peak/tonic syllable and to consonants that give cues to grammar, such as final /s/ or /z/ to indicate plural and third person singular and to final /d/ or /t/ to indicate past tense. Once those are secure, time can be spent on sounds at the beginning of words.


Teachers generally recognize the social and workplace consequences of poor intelligibility but are often uncertain about what to do about it. Following are suggestions to help the teachers guide their students.

Teacher educators must help ensure that teachers get the training they need. There are currently too few TESOL programs that offer a practicalphonology course-a bridge between linguistics and pronunciation teaching. Understanding which elements are most crucial would help teachers prioritize their efforts instead of using up available time and effort struggling to cover all the independent sounds.

Without a threshold-level mastery of the English prosodic system, no amount of drilling individual sounds will increase intelligibility. As one teacher-trainee put it after the training course, "Practicing pronunciation without prosody is like teaching ballroom dancing¯only the students must stand still, practice without a partner, and do it all without music."

Researchers should consider classroom application in their published reports. This is not easy because it means that researchers should have had direct teaching experience as a context, and should be able to translate their terminology so that it is accessible for classroom teachers.

Materials developers need to address pronunciation skills in a more integrated way, in order to give teachers the support they need. Teachers rely on basal texts to supply all needs, and if the pronunciation parts are unrelated to the rest of the unit, they are assumed to be optional.

Curriculum designers ought to give the spoken language as central a place as the written form. Once they abandon the idea that pronunciation is a matter of drilling minimal pairs-and see it as a wider discourse organizer-they can give teachers the scaffolding for integrating pronunciation. That would be a good thing.


Bradford, B., & Kenworthy, J. (1991). Phonology on teacher training courses. Speak Out!, 9, 12-14.

Breitkreutz, T., Derwing, T., & Rossiter, M. (2001). Pronunciation teaching practices in Canada. TESL Canada Journal, 19(1), 51-61.

Brown, A. (Ed.) (1991). Teaching English pronunciation: A book of readings. London: Routledge.

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D., & Goodwin, J. (2010). Teaching pronunciation (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Couper, G. (2006). The short and long-term effects of pronunciation instruction. Prospect, 21(1), 46-66.

Cruz-Ferreira, M. (2010). Multilinguals are …? London & Colombo: Battlebridge. [Not cited; please add citation, or if not cited, delete reference entry]

Deng, J., et al. (2009). English pronunciation research: The neglected orphan of second language acquisition studies? (PMC Working Paper WPO5-09). University of Alberta.

Derwing, T., & Munro, M. (2005). Second language accent and pronunciation teaching: A research-based approach. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 379-397.

Derwing, T., & Rossiter, M. (2002). ESL learners' perceptions of their pronunciation needs and strategies. System, 30, 155-166.

Fraser, H. (2000). Coordinating improvements in pronunciation teaching for adult learners of English as a second language. Canberra: DETYA.

Fraser, H. (2001). Teaching pronunciation: A handbook for teachers and trainers. Sydney: TAFE NSW Access Division.http://helenfraser.com.au/publications.htm

Gilbert, J. (2009). Teaching pronunciation using the prosody pyramid. New York: Cambridge University Press. Available fromhttp://www.cambridge.org/elt/resources/teachersupportplus/

Kanellou, V. (2009). The place of pronunciation in current ELT manuals: A review. Speak Out!, 41, 4-7.

Kjellin, O. (1999). Accent addition: Prosody and perception facilitate second language learning. http://www.olle-kjellin.com/SpeechDoctor/ProcLP98.html

Levis, J., & Pickering, L. (2004). Teaching intonation in discourse using speech visualization technology. System, 32, 505-524.

Macdonald, S. (2002). Pronunciation - views and practices of reluctant teachers. Prospect, 17(3), 3-18.

Marks, J. (1986). All language teaching is phonology teaching. IATEFL Phonology Special Interest Group Newsletter, 1, 8-9.

Meyers, C., & Holt, S. (1997). PFS Teacher Training Tape. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Aspen Productions.

Morley, J. (Ed.) (1987). Current perspectives on pronunciation. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

Murphy, J. (1997). Phonology courses offered by MATESOL programs in the U.S. TESOL Quarterly 31(4), 741-764.

Rossiter, M., Derwing, T., Manimtim, G., & Thomson, R. (forthcoming). Oral fluency: The neglected component in the communicative language classroom. The Canadian Modern Language Review.

Walker, R. (1999). Proclaimed and perceived wants and needs among Spanish teachers of English, Speak Out! 24, 25-32.

Warren, P., Elgort, I., & Crabbe, D. (2009). Comprehensibility and prosody ratings for pronunciation software development. Language Learning & Technology, 13(3), 87-102.

Judy Gilbert is the author of Clear Speech (3rd ed., 2005) and Clear Speech from the Start (2001), and coauthor with Pamela Rogerson of Speaking Clearly (1990), all from Cambridge University Press.

Does Pronunciation Instruction Promote Intelligibility and Comprehensibility?

Özgür Parlak, Lecturer of English, Foundation Program, Qatar University, ozgur.parlak@qu.edu.qa

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of studies that aim to understand pronunciation instruction and its impact on learners' intelligibility and perceived comprehensibility.

Although skeptics would doubt the value of pronunciation instruction because of generalizability, fossilization, and critical age hypotheses, there are scholars who argue that explicit instruction can help learners improve their oral efficacy (Derwing & Munro, 2005; Field, 2005; Hahn, 2004; Jenkins, 2004). Several key factors determine the success of instruction and one critical factor to note is the ultimate goal that instructors set for their students. If the ultimate goal is achieving native-like fluency and getting rid of accentedness, this may well be an unproductive use of time.

What is worse, this goal could also demotivate learners because of the small amount of progress, if any, achieved over a long period. However, if instructors set more realistic goals such as increasing their students' intelligibility and comprehensibility, rather than motivating them toward becoming native-like, the chances of success would be higher (Derwing & Munro, 2005; Scales, Wennerstrom, Richard, & Wu, 2006). In addition, the focus of instruction is another factor that determines how much students can progress. Between segmental and suprasegmental features, there is evidence that instruction focusing on suprasegmentals would be more beneficial to learners (Derwing & Rossiter, 2002; Hahn, 2004). This is not to say that teaching of segmentals has no place in the ESL/EFL classroom. What is important is setting priorities with the aim of helping learners increase their intelligibility and comprehensibility.

In light of these arguments, the current study tried to answer two research questions:

(1) Do ESL learners who receive pronunciation instruction improve in terms of intelligibility?

(2) Do ESL learners who receive pronunciation instruction improve in terms of comprehensibility?



The participants were 25 ESL learners enrolled in an intensive English program at a public university in the southwestern United States. The intensive English program had four different levels of instruction based on learners' proficiency, and the participants were randomly selected from level 1 ( n = 2), level 2 (n = 7), and level 3 (n= 16). As for the proficiency level, learners had a TOEFL iBT score of 32 to 44 for level 1, 45 to 57 for level 2, and 57 to 69 for level 3. There were 10 male and 15 female participants who ranged in age from 18 to 21 years, the mean age being 19.96. The populations sampled were speakers of Mandarin (N = 18), Cantonese (N = 2), Japanese (N = 4) and Korean (N = 1).


The raters were 18 (F = 12, M = 6) native speakers of American English who were undergraduate students at the same university. Their age ranged from 18 to 19 (M = 18.17). One rater was a native bilingual of English and Spanish while the rest of the raters reported that they had some knowledge of a second language, none of which corresponded to the participants' L1s. In other words, the raters were not familiar with any of the four languages spoken by the participants as an L1.


The testing materials consisted of two picture stories taken from an ESL resource book. The first picture story was about a group of pirates kidnapping a princess and the second one was about a group of robbers taking two eyewitnesses as hostages. The vocabulary needed for both stories was quite similar because the two plots were parallel with criminals, kidnapping, and police involved.

When it comes to the rating scales, intelligibility was measured by a transcription task and comprehensibility was measured by a five-item, 7-point Likert scale. The same ordinal scale had been previously used by Kang, Rubin, and Pickering (in press). The five items posed different polar-opposite descriptions of comprehensibility. The items had a description on each end and were divided by seven equally distanced gaps. The five items wereeasy/hard to understand, incomprehensible/highly comprehensible, needed little effort/lots of effort to understand, unclear/clear, and simple/difficult to grasp the meaning. The internal consistency reliability (Cronbach's alpha) for the scale was .98.

As for the instructional materials, lesson plans with a focus on both segmentals and suprasegmentals were prepared. Lessons were planned in a way that would allow the participants to spend approximately 30% of their time on segmental features and 70% of their time on suprasegmental features.


Participants were randomly assigned to control (N = 12) and treatment (N = 13) groups. The distribution of L1s and proficiency levels between the two groups was balanced. Both groups took the pretest and posttest in a computer lab. For the pretest, the participants were asked to narrate the first picture story in their own words. They were given a 5-minute preparation time but were not allowed to take any notes. They were also informed that they could ask questions for clarification if they did not understand the plot or if they were unsure about certain vocabulary. It was hoped that this short interval would help the participants reduce their anxiety before they started speaking into the microphone. Once the participants felt they were ready to narrate the story, their narration was recorded onto a computer. The data were saved as 41 kHz, 16-bit stereo MP3 files.

After the pretest data were collected, the treatment group received pronunciation instruction over 6 weeks, in 12 50-minute sessions. Each week two sessions took place on different days. During this period, the control group did not receive pronunciation instruction. At the end of 6 weeks, posttest data were collected from both groups. In order to collect the posttest data, the participants were given the second picture story and the procedure for the pretest was repeated.

The next step was preparing the data for the raters to assess. In consideration of the anxiety factor that might have been experienced by the speakers at the beginning of their narration, the speech samples were obtained from the middle of each recording as complete utterances. The raters listened to each speech sample only once and immediately transcribed it in standard orthography. Afterward, they made a judgment of comprehensibility using the 7-point Likert scale with five items.


Intelligibility Scores

Eighteen native-speaker raters transcribed the pretest and posttest data collected from the participants. The pretest and posttest data, each of which contained 25 recordings, were transcribed during the same session. The speech samples ranged from 8 to 12 seconds in length with a mean of 9.52 seconds (SD = 1.01). Because listening to a recording more than once could have resulted in increased intelligibility, each recording was played only once before the raters transcribed it. Moreover, in order to preclude the risk of intentionally assigned high scores for the posttest data, the raters listened to all 50 recordings in random order. Next, the procedure followed by Derwing and Munro (1997) was used to calculate transcription scores. Raters' orthographic transcriptions were coded for exact word match against transcriptions of the recorded speech samples prepared by the researcher. Transcriptions prepared by the researcher were also checked by a second person for accuracy prior to coding. During the coding process, minor orthographic errors (e.g., typing the princes sudenly instead of the princess suddenly) and omission of a repeated word (e.g., typing some robbers robbed instead of some robbers robbed, robbed) were considered noncritical and did not affect intelligibility scores negatively. Other types of omissions or insertion of extra words were considered critical; therefore they affected participants' intelligibility score negatively. Transcription scores were based on a percentage calculation of words matching the transcription prepared by the researcher. The mean of exact word-match scores from the 18 raters was calculated to determine an overall score for each one of the 50 speech samples. As for the interrater reliability on the transcription task, the Pearson interrater reliability with Fisher's Z transformation was 0.76.

Comprehensibility Ratings

After having transcribed a speech sample, the raters assigned a comprehensibility rating for that particular speech sample using the five-item, 7-point Likert scale. Because the raters judged perceived comprehensibility immediately after transcribing an utterance, both pretest and posttest data were rated during the same session, following the same random order with the transcription task. In order to calculate the comprehensibility score for each speech sample, first the scores from each of the five items on the scale were added together to determine the score assigned by a single rater. The lowest and highest possible scores that could be assigned to a speech sample using the Likert scale were 5 and 35 respectively. Then, scores assigned by all 18 speakers to a particular speech sample were added together to arrive at a final comprehensibility score for that speech sample. For comprehensibility ratings, the Pearson interrater reliability with Fisher's Z transformation was 0.76. The next step was running the statistical tests. For all tests of statistical significance, alpha was set at 0.05.


Intelligibility Scores

The first research question asked whether ESL students who receive pronunciation instruction improve in terms of intelligibility. In order to answer the research question, pretest and posttest transcription scores of the control group and the treatment group were analyzed.

Independent samples t-test results revealed a significant difference between the means of pretest scores of the control and treatment groups. Therefore, in light of the small sample size, a paired samples t-test was conducted to determine the amount of change in performance for each group.

For the control group, the posttest scores (M = 60.88, SD = 16.35) were slightly lower than the pretest scores (M = 66.21, SD = 21.26). However, the paired samples t-test results yielded a value of t(11) = 1.02, p = .33, indicating that the difference between the two means was not significant. On the other hand, the treatment group got higher scores on the posttest (M = 69.54, SD = 17.38) than they did on the pretest (M = 49.04, SD = 13.72). Paired samples t-test results indicated that the increase in the performance of the treatment group was significant; t(12)= -3.54, p = .004. In other words, the findings suggest that pronunciation instruction affected participants' intelligibility in a positive way, which can also be seen in Figure 1.


The second research question asked whether ESL students who receive pronunciation instruction improve in terms of comprehensibility. Descriptive statistics showed that the control group received lower scores on the posttest (M = 387.08, SD = 115.82) than on the pretest ( M = 399.00, SD = 119.37). According to the paired samples t-test results, the difference between the two mean scores was not significant; t(11) = .45, p = .66. In contrast, the treatment group increased their scores on the posttest (M = 414.23, SD = 130.44) when compared with the pretest (M = 280.46, SD = 93.07). The t-test results showed that the increase in scores was significant; t(12)= -4.30, p=.001. Therefore, it was concluded that learners who received pronunciation instruction were able to improve their comprehensibility, as illustrated by Figure 2.


The findings of the current study provide additional support for the claim that learners can improve their intelligibility and comprehensibility with the help of explicit instruction, which confirms the arguments presented by previous studies (Derwing & Munro, 2005; Field, 2005; Hahn, 2004; Jenkins, 2004). The study addressed another important issue, which was raised by Piske, MacKay, and Flege (2001), by using untrained raters to judge the degree of progress in intelligibility and comprehensibility. The purpose of using untrained raters instead of trained ones was to simulate a native-speaker experience similar to what would happen in a real-life context. Because the majority of the native speakers with whom ESL speakers interact in real-life contexts are not trained to listen to nonnative English, how they assess intelligibility and comprehensibility would be crucial. Contrary to what would be expected in a situation where the raters are not trained prior to the rating session, the results showed that the interrater reliability was marginal, which contributes to the validity of the results. If native speakers with no training or pedagogical background can recognize a positive change, it would mean that pronunciation instruction can noticeably improve the efficacy of L2 speakers' oral production and thus reduce listener effort. A clear pedagogical implication of the findings is that it would be beneficial to make pronunciation instruction a part of listening and speaking classes to help learners acquire the skills they need to be able to successfully communicate in their second language.

This study aimed to further an understanding of pronunciation instruction and its benefits. Yet, certain limitations should be addressed. First of all, the sample size could be deemed too small for this type of research. To be able to get more generalizable results, the study needs to be replicated with a larger sample group. Second, the raters listened to the recordings in a computer lab environment and each recording was only about 8 to 12 seconds in length. Therefore, it is hard to predict what the results would have been if the pretest and posttest had been carried out as real-time interactions between the participants and the raters. Finally, the current study did not examine the longitudinal effect of explicit pronunciation instruction. Future studies would benefit from an analysis of delayed posttests to determine the longitudinal effect of pronunciation instruction on intelligibility and comprehensibility.

With the right method and focus on both segmental and suprasegmental elements, ESL/EFL learners are likely to improve their oral efficacy, which would lead to successful communication experiences in their second language. Therefore, it is hoped that the findings presented in this study will encourage ESL/EFL instructors to devote a sufficient amount of time to teaching pronunciation.


Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (1997). Accent, intelligibility, and comprehensibility: Evidence from four L1s. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19(1), 1-16.

Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (2005). Second language accent and pronunciation teaching: A research-based approach. TESOL Quarterly, 39, 379-397.

Derwing, T. M., & Rossiter, M. J. (2002). ESL learners' perceptions of their pronunciation needs and strategies. System, 30, 155-166.

Field, J. (2005). Intelligibility and the listener: The role of lexical stress. TESOL Quarterly, 39, 399-423.

Hahn, L. D. (2004). Primary stress and intelligibility: Research to motivate the teaching of suprasegmentals. TESOL Quarterly, 38, 2, 201-223.

Jenkins, J. (2004, November). Talking it through whose accent? Paper presented at Naldic Conference 12, London.

Kang, O., Rubin, D. L., & Pickering, L. (in press). Suprasegmental measures of accentedness and judgments of English language learner proficiency in oral English. Modern Language Journal.

Piske, T., MacKay, I. R. A., & Flege, J. E. (2001). Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 191-215.

Scales, J., Wennerstrom, A., Richard, D., & Wu, S. H. (2006). Language learners' perceptions of accent. TESOL Quarterly, 40(4), 715-738.

Ozgur Parlak is a lecturer at Qatar University's Foundation Program. He has taught EFL/ESL in various contexts including Turkey, Thailand, the United States and Qatar for almost six years. In addition to teaching, his interests include phonology and SLA.

Do You Speak American English?

Lynda Katz Wilner, MS, lkwilner@successfully-speaking.com, and Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker, MS, mwhittaker@rcn.com

"I have no problem with English. I have been speaking it since grammar school."

This is the opinion of many nonnative American English speakers who then become frustrated when American-born listeners as well as speakers of other foreign languages cannot understand them. Despite excellent English proficiency, communication breaks down because of the speaker's accent. Though foreign accents often add exotic appeal to speech, they can be the cause of serious miscommunication and misinterpretation. In these cases, accent modification training can help to enhance communication.


The syllable stress patterns of North American English are often different from the stress patterns of British English. Just listen to the BBC to hear differing stress and intonation styles. Americans say EDucate, not eduCATE; TRANSlate, not transLATE; and iDENtify, not identiFY. These minor syllable stress variations can confuse the listener who is unaccustomed to alternative speaking patterns. If pitch changes are not detected between syllables, the clarity of the message is affected.

In North American English, sentence-level stress is very critical when relaying information. If no word is stressed, monotone speech results; if an unimportant word is stressed, the rhythm or melody of the sentence is altered. A word is stressed by saying it with louder volume, higher pitch, and a longer vowel sound. An increase in loudness alone will make the speaker sound angry or impatient. An inappropriate rising pitch at the end of the sentence will sound uncertain, tentative, or immature. In American English, the last important content word is stressed (e.g., "I'm finished with it" not "I'm finished withit"). Changing the stressed word alters the meaning or can be used to emphasize a point; (e.g., "The appointment is at noon"; Question: "Islunch at noon?" Answer: "No; the appointment is at noon."

The production of vowels often differs between nonnative and native American English speakers, and they are spoken with different mouth tension and positions. The following word pairs should sound different: leave vs. live; seat vs. sit; Luke vs. look; suit vs. soot; ward vs. word; soft vs. surfed, and hot vs. heart.

Consonants may be pronounced differently as well. Pronunciation is influenced by the first language and it is challenging when nonnative speakers are trying to produce sounds that do not exist in their native language. For example, the following words should not sound the same: "dis" vs. this, sink vs. think, wane vs. vein, sin vs. sing.

The pronunciation of the "t" sound is typically a challenge for individuals who learned English abroad. In American English, "t" is pronounced differently according to its location within the word. In addition, regional influences affect the production of the "t" sound. When "t" appears in the stressed syllable, it is pronounced precisely (e.g., atomic, Italian, photography). When "t" is in a syllable that is unstressed, it is produced as a flap /t/ and sounds like a fast and imprecise "d" (e.g., atom, Italy, photograph). When "t" is at the end of a word, it can be produced without releasing the sound (e.g., hot, sit, eat). Yet, when it is at the end, but part of a consonant cluster, it is released (e.g., li ft, first, correct, sipped). Some final clusters with "t" can be produced with or without releasing it (e.g., don't, rent, part). And finally, when "t" is followed by an "n" and is in the unstressed syllable, the "t" is produced in the throat and is called a glottal "t" (e.g., cotton, certain, Latin, maintenance).

Stress, intonation, and the pronunciation of vowels and consonants are just some of the differences between American English and English learned abroad. In addition, many English teachers overseas are not native speakers and tend to focus on grammar, vocabulary, and writing rather than pronunciation. So, although students are learning the nuts and bolts of English, they typically do not have an American English role model with whom to practice these unique and subtle differences. The Internet becomes an invaluable tool to help nonnative speakers to engage in communication with native speakers.

Of course, language differences complicate communication even further. One has to consider the thousands of figurative expressions that must be learned through practical use. Even using a simple preposition incorrectly in an idiomatic expression can render it a useless or even incoherent phrase(e.g., Do you wait online or in line?) In addition, vocabulary terms for simple daily items differ from the terms used abroad. For example, in the United Kingdom a lorry means a truck; the tube is the subway system; a subway is a pedestrian underpass; and a roundabout is a traffic circle. A "hole in the wall" is an ATM in British English but a small out-of-the-way place in North America.

Spelling differences also exist between British and American English (e.g., flavour/flavor, learnt/learned, favourite/favorite, pyjamas/pajamas, and defence/defense, to name a few). Specialized communication training addressing the pronunciation, intonation, and language-based differences can assist the speaker by identifying the aforementioned variations and facilitating the speaker's ability to adopt a natural American style of English speech. The results include a more effective professional style of speech in the North American environments, increased work productivity because of reduced miscommunication, increased listener comprehension, enhanced career growth opportunities, and increased self-confidence and self-esteem. Accent and communication skills training is an invaluable professional development tool that can be introduced once English proficiency is achieved.

Lynda Katz Wilner, of Successfully Speaking, and Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker, of The Whittaker Group, are corporate communication trainers specializing in business communication and accent modification. Their joint company, ESL RULES, LLC, publishes training materials for nonnative English speakers in the medical/scientific, business/financial, high-technology, and clergy fields. Contact them at www.eslrules.com.

TESOL 2010 SPLIS Presentation Summaries

Below are abstracts from presenters at TESOL 2010 listed in alphabetical order by the first author. For more information, please contact the authors directly.

Teaching Pronunciation Using the Prosody Pyramid

Judy Gilbert, judybgilbert@comcast.net

Students at all levels need to acquire the same basic equipment for effective communication in spoken English. This demonstration presented a pyramid of core concepts essential to intelligibility that must be mastered before time and attention are devoted to more subtle elements of spoken English.

The core concepts were presented in a pyramid-shaped system, using thought groups as the foundation unit. Working upwards in the pyramid, within each thought group, there is one focus word. Within that focus word there is a primary stressed syllable. This crucial syllable is the peak of the pyramid because it is the peak of information; this is the part of the sentence where the individual sounds must be clear. Each layer of the pyramid was discussed, with suggestions for practical exercises, including vowel rules to help students guess how to pronounce the written word (e.g., "easy" vs. "messy"); syllable number (e.g., "sport/support"); word stress (e.g. ,"atom/atomic"); and sentence emphasis (e.g., "I wanted TWO dozen/I wanted two DOZen." Session participants practiced using gestures and tools in a variety of tasks for teaching the core concepts.

A free booklet, "Teaching Pronunciation Using the Prosody Pyramid," can be accessed at www.cambridge.org/elt/resources/teachersupportplus.

Can Oral Skills and Pronunciation Be Taught Effectively Online?
Deborah Healey, dhealey@uoregon.edu, Senior Instructor, University of Oregon
Holly Gray, holly@soundsofenglish.org, Curriculum Coordinator, Global Village Hawaii
Kathi Cennamo, cennamo.1@osu.edu, Program Coordinator of the Spoken English Program for ITAs at Ohio State University
Peter Brandt, brandt.5@osu.edu, Systems Specialist for ESL Programs at Ohio State University

The suitability of online environments for oral skills is not always clear. This panel addresses such questions as: Under what conditions can oral communication be taught with success online? What are the advantages and limitations? What specific tools, techniques, and programs have instructors used with success?

For more information about the contributions of Deborah Healey ("Creating a Hybrid IGTA Oral Skills Course"), please visithttp://www.uoregon.edu/~dhealey/tesol2010/hybrid_igta_course.html .

For more information about the contributions of Kathi Cennamo and Peter Brandt, please visit http://esl.osu.edu/tesol.

For a link to handouts provided at the session, please visit www.tesol-splis.org/main/page_tesol_handouts.html.

Transcription and Self-Correction Strategies for Improving L2 Pronunciation
Sue Ingels, ingels@illinois.edu, PhD Candidate

Improving L2 pronunciation is an ongoing process and having access to strategies that promote independent learning, such as self-correction, is essential for achieving one's academic and professional L2 goals (Dickerson, 1994). Past research (Mennim, 2003), as well as the presenter's own work (Ingels, in press), has demonstrated that listening critically to and transcribing one's own L2 speech can lead to noticing of important L2 features and, in turn, to pronunciation improvement. The primary objective of this session was to describe learner strategies that instructors can integrate into existing language classes and thus help students learn to monitor and correct their own L2 oral skills. Specific techniques include transcription and critical listening.

Examples were included of student transcriptions and voice recordings that demonstrate improvement following the semester-long use of critical listening and transcription strategies.

Teaching Pronunciation in a Fun Way With "Fənåtéks"

Najma Janjua, janjua@chs.pref.kagawa.jp, Kagawa Prefectural College of Health Sciences, Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan

Teaching pronunciation is a challenge faced by EFL teachers around the world. The problem is especially compounded by interference from the L1 of the learners. Most EFL instruction in the public school system, especially in Asian countries, begins at the junior high school level. By that time, the L1 of the learners is already firmly established and producing the sounds of a novel foreign language becomes a mammoth task for them. This presentation introduced a Web site that appears to have the potential to make the task both feasible and fun. The site is named "fənåtéks: the sounds of spoken language" and can be accessed at www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/. It contains animated libraries of the phonetic sounds of American English, German, and Spanish. For each language, an animated articulatory diagram, a step-by-step description, and an audio-video of the sound spoken in context are given for various consonants and vowels. The particular sounds can be selected from the library and listened to while observing simultaneously the corresponding animations of human articulatory anatomy involved in producing them. The presentation focused on the American English part of the site with a demonstration of how it can be navigated to observe the animations and discussed its use with Japanese college EFL learners.

The author first discovered the site in the summer of 2009 during a visit to the English and French Language Centre (EFLC) of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. While observing a pronunciation workshop held at the EFLC as part of an intensive ESL course for Asian students, the author was impressed by the use of the site by the course instructor Carolyn Samuel, who specializes in teaching pronunciation. This prompted the author, who currently teaches in Japan, to use the site in the Japanese EFL classroom.

The site was introduced during a part of a 90-minute class in an EFL summer intensive course for college sophomores. The course focused on the development of reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in the area of advanced topics in nursing and medical technology. Preliminary findings on the use of the "fənåtéks" Web site indicated that students had fun and showed interest in practicing pronunciation using the site. In particular, students seemed to be amazed by the interactive animations showing the sagittal view of human vocal anatomy with tongue and lip movements involved in producing various sounds in relation to other anatomical structures. One set of animations showed the differences in the tongue movement in pronouncingl and r, the two sounds that are especially difficult for the Japanese to pronounce and discern. Although no data on the actual effectiveness of the Web site could be obtained because of its limited use in the present case, the site does seem to have the potential to be useful in tackling the problem of pronunciation in Japanese EFL learners. Further studies are planned to determine if use of the "fənåtéks" Web site can further improve the effectiveness in teaching pronunciation in comparison with a pronunciation practice guide previously developed by the author (Janjua, N. 2007,http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/trc/trc_submission_detail_new.asp?id=561 ) that has been found to be highly effective in minimizing L1 interference at the speaking level in Japanese EFL learners (Janjua, N., 2010, http://jalt-publications.org/proceedings/2009/contents.php).

English for Medical Professionals: Assessments and Activities

Lynda Katz Wilner, MS, lkwilner@successfully-speaking.com
Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker, MS, mwhittaker@rcn.com
ESL RULES, LLC, www.eslrules.com

How can we enhance our curriculums with relevant and effective tools to meet the needs of nonnative English-speaking medical professionals? A variety of formal and informal assessment techniques to document progress and training techniques to promote improved communication for health care professionals was discussed.

Today's medical centers have high numbers of foreign-born physicians (25%) and recruited nurses. Community colleges and English language programs report increased requests to develop advanced pronunciation curriculums for these professionals. Accent modification is a major focus of communication training programs in the medical setting. The effect of pronunciation and intonation patterns on the health care provider-patient relationship is paramount. Misinterpretation of critical information (such as 15 mg versus 50 mg) may have life-threatening and potentially litigious ramifications. Clear pronunciation will also have a direct effect on the ability to state medical information accurately (such as "bleeding" versus "breathing"). The frequent use of idiomatic expressions and slang of American English language often presents barriers between foreign-born health professionals and colleagues, patients, and patient families (e.g., "He's out of the woods"). An understanding of the social expressions and conversational gambits will help these health care professionals integrate into the medical and social milieu.

Measurable outcomes of instruction can be obtained by assessing pronunciation and intonation changes, charting patient compliance with medications or orders prior to and after communication skills training, and utilizing "report cards" for the doctors and nurses. Assessment and training materials designed for professionals in the medical community were presented to help the instructor develop a curriculum to meet the unique needs of this population.

Improving Linking Through Pronunciation Learning Strategies

Veronica G. Sardegna, sardegna@mail.utexas.edu, The University of Texas at Austin

This study evaluated the long-term effects of empowering students with pronunciation learning strategies that they can use in private to improve their ability to link English sounds within and across words. First, the presenter described the strategies taught to students during a one-semester pronunciation course and showed the materials used in class. Second, she explained how she evaluated progress for 37 students via a mixed-method analysis that triangulated longitudinal data from read-aloud tests, questionnaires, and notes collected during a 2-year period. Third, she argued for the effectiveness of instructing students on the use of pronunciation strategies on the basis of the study's findings. Namely, the study revealed that the students maintained a significant improvement over time regardless of their language background, length of stay in the United States, and gender. Finally, she discussed the pedagogical implications of her research.

Fun and Innovative Ways to Improve Spelling

Gelene Strecker-Sayer, NBCT, strecker-sayergelene@rockwood.k12.mo.us, English Language Development Specialist

Help I kant spel! Often struggling students work on autopilot instead of having an action plan. These students view more skilled spellers as "lucky" when chances are their counterparts are using metacognitive strategies to assist learning. This presentation discussed four strategy types to improve student spelling: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and word-morphing. These artful strategies build better spellers and improve students' meta-cognition as well as reinforce integrated skills within the language domains and content areas. Teaching these strategies helps generate more independent learners and enhance learning by giving students ownership of their learning; making the information meaningful and relevant; activating multiple learning styles; and improving pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntactical understanding. These strategies have been found to be effective in isolation and within text construction. Patterns of student difficulty with high-frequency words as well as major publishers' grade-level spelling lists were used to generate the materials.


Using Podcasts to Integrate Listening, Speaking, and Pronunciation Skills

Patti Watts, pawatts1@illinois.edu, Coordinator, International Teaching Assistant Program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Sue Ingels, ingels@illinois.edu, PhD Candidate

Podcasts yield a rich source of material for activities, such as macro listening for meaning and micro listening for form (e.g., message unit boundaries, rhythmic features, and sounds). Podcasts can also facilitate other speaking tasks, such as giving oral summaries, leading class discussions, or creating original podcasts.

In this session, the presenters offered principles for selecting podcasts and for designing lessons that integrate listening, pronunciation, and speaking skills. They provided examples of classroom-tested materials and offered advice for adapting materials for students at different levels or in different settings.

Community News and Information TESOL 2011 Colloquium Announcement

L2 Accent and Ethics: Issues That Merit Attention

Organizer: Tracey M. Derwing, University of Alberta, Canada

Presenters: Tracey Derwing; Helen Fraser, University of New England, Australia; Okim Kang, Northern Arizona University, USA; Ron Thomson, Brock University, Canada

Although most teachers of English are well aware that their students may sometimes experience discrimination in reaction to their L2 accents, they may not realize the extensive range of factors that contribute to negative consequences for individuals with foreign accents; neither may they realize the degree to which accent can disadvantage a speaker beyond day-to-day interactions. In this colloquium, we will explore several areas where accent and ethics cross and are often in conflict. Tracey Derwing will give an overview of the relationship of accent and intelligibility and will discuss state legislation in Arizona and North Dakota that seems to conflate the two concepts. Helen Fraser will outline methods used in language analysis for determination of origin of refugee claimants (LADO). She will discuss the problem of untrained native speakers making life-and-death decisions on the basis of samples of L2 accented speech. In a review of accent reduction programs, Ron Thomson will expose some of the hucksterism and extreme claims made by opportunists who make promises they can't possibly keep. Okim Kang will address the responsibility of the interlocutor in ESL settings and how communication with and attitudes toward L2 speakers may be enhanced. Finally, Tracey Derwing will wrap up the colloquium with some suggestions for ESL instructors.


Dr. Tracey Derwing teaches in the TESL program and also codirects the Prairie Metropolis Centre for Research on Immigration, Integration and Diversity, which spans six Canadian universities. The Centre brings together academics, policy makers, and nongovernmental organizations involved in immigration issues. She and her colleague, Dr. Murray Munro, have conducted numerous studies related to L2 pronunciation and fluency as well as studies of monolingual English listeners' ability to understand foreign-accented speech.

Dr. Helen Fraser studied linguistics and phonetics at Macquarie University, Sydney, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, then taught at several universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland before taking a position at the University of New England (UNE), Australia, which she held from 1990 to 2008. Her research focuses on cognitive aspects of phonetics and covers both theoretical and applied topics, especially second language pronunciation and forensic phonetics. She is now an independent researcher, currently working part-time at UNE's Teaching and Learning Centre on a project titled "Speaking and Listening in the Multicultural University."

Dr. Okim Kang is an assistant professor of applied linguistics at Northern Arizona University. Her research focuses on L2 pronunciation, language attitudes, and oral proficiency assessment. She is the winner of the 2009 Christopher Brumfit PhD Thesis Award and has received various research grants. Her publications appear in journals such as Modern Language Journal, System, and Journal of Language and Social Psychology.

Dr. Ron Thomson teaches courses in applied linguistics and TESL at Brock University. His research interests include the acquisition of L2 fluency and pronunciation and professionalism in TESL. He is currently developing a computer-mediated approach to training second language speech perception and production, incorporating findings from current research into the program's design.

What Is the SPLIS Interest Section?

Nancy Hilty, nhhilty@yahoo.com

SPLIS-L is the electronic discussion list for the Speech, Pronunciation, and Listening Interest Section of TESOL. Its function is the exchange of information, questions. and answers about instructional techniques, learning challenges, and successes, as well as research findings related to speech, listening, and pronunciation. SPLIS-L, along with the SPLIS newsletter. will also provide information about SPLIS-related issues, projects, and interest section business.

There are 483 members in the discussion group, many of them published authors. The focus is very practical, most often related to teaching issues and questions. No job advertisements or promotion of commercial products is allowed on the list. To join the list, go to the official site of the SPLIS Interest Section, www.tesol-splis.org, which will direct you to the TESOL site and lead you through subscription to the list. You must be a TESOL member to join the list. Welcome, and enjoy participating in SPLIS-L.

Join TESOL Interest Sections for Free SPLIS and other interest section newsletters are available to all members to read.
Call for Submissions


The SPLIS e-newsletter, As We Speak, is soliciting articles on any of the various aspects of teaching and tutoring pronunciation, oral skills, and listening that apply to and/or focus on ESL/EFL pedagogy, second language acquisition, accent addition/reduction, assessment of those skills, and other related research. We also solicit book reviews for both classroom and methodology texts. Teaching tips, tutoring tips, and classroom strategies are also acceptable submissions.


Articles should have the following characteristics:

  • Be no longer than 2,500 words
  • Include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract
  • Contain no more than five citations
  • Follow the style guidelines in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA)
  • Be in MS Word or ASCII format
  • Follow accepted conventions for online publishing (handout available upon request)


As We Speak will be published two times per year: March 1 and September 1.

  • Submission deadline for the March issue is January 1.
  • Submission deadline for the September issue is July 20.

Note: You may contact the editor at any time to discuss possible submissions.