English Pronunciation : Issues and Practices (EPIP): Proceedings of the First International Conference. June 3-5 2009, Université de Savoie, Chambéry, France

Abstract : This book is the fruit of the first English Pronunciation: Issues & Practices (EPIP) conference, which took place at the University of Savoie, France, in June 2009. Researchers and teachers from sixteen different countries came together to discuss: phonetic variations and phonological changes; varieties, identity and their implications for teaching; and the use of new technologies in research and in the classroom. CONTENTS -*- Introduction to EPIP publication / Alice Henderson -A- PRONUNCIATION PREFERENCES -1- A corpus-based study of phonological free variation in English / Jose A. Mompean [ Abstract : This paper looks at phonological free variation in English. A corpus of RP English newcasts from 1999 to 2008 was compiled and 52 lexical items known to exhibit phonological free variation were analysed. The rates of occurences of the variants and rates of the speakers producing the variants are provided. The results show that most of the tendencies the data reveal agree reasonably well with data from pronunciation polls carried out for lexicographic purposes. When they do not, explanations are provided for the different results. It is argued that further empirical approaches through corpus analysis and/or speech elicited under experimental, controlled conditions are necessary in the study of this largely neglected phenomenon.] -2- English pronunciation preferences : Research by 'indirect' questionnaire / Mohamed Benrabah [ Abstract : Wells's "Longman Pronunciation Dictionary" (LPD, 1990, 2000, 2008) contains between 200 and 300 words with competing pronunciations. Fluctuation concerns vowels, consonants and lexical stress. To collect "objective data" regarding these varying pronunciations, Wells used written questionnaires (opinion polls) to be answered by "speech conscious" informants (linguists, newsreaders, speech therapists, etc.). The results of the opinion polls (percentages) served as evidence for Wells to select main pronunciation forms and their variants. The present paper is concerned with the methodological approach adopted by Wells to answer two research questions : (1) Would an experimental design based on respondents listening to different options yield similar of different results from those presented by Wells? (2) Would the use of informants who are not linguistically trained have a significant bearing on the results? Of the 200-300 words with variable pronunciations found in the LPD, we have limited our work to those words whose stress placement is debatable. There are 52 such items in the LPD and we choose 21 words, each having two possible pronunciations. The matched-guise technique was adapted for gathering data ; each word was embedded into a carrier sentence uttered twice, once for each pronunciation. A native speaker of RP-style English recorded the 21 pairs of sentences. They were listened to by 453 native British informants, who then reported their preferences on an answer sheet. Their responses were compared with Wells's results in order to answer the two research questions.] -B- NATIVE & NON NATIVE SPEAKERS -3- The perception of word stress in English and French : which cues for native English and French speakers? / Dan Frost [ Abstract : English prosodic features, particularly word stress, have long proven a source of debate. Word stress plays an essential role in the segmentation of speech, a crucial process in language comprehension, acquisition and learning. Incorrect use of English word stress by non-native speakers can lead to problems in comprehensibility. The English and French, phonological systems are vastly different, especially in the domain of stress, and this leads to many problems for native French speakers learning English. This article presents a study which focuses on the four acoustic cues to word stress (FO, duration, amplitude and formant structure) and their perceptual correlates (pitch, length, loudness and timbre). The results support the hypothesis that French and English native speakers listen differently for stress.] -4- The effect of task on the pronunciation of English. High front vowels by Japanese learners / Rika Aoki [ Abstract : The aim of the present study is to observe the pattern of pronunciation of English /i/ and /I/ by Japanase-speaking learners of English, and how it changes according to the task they work on. The production experiments shows that most Japanese learners did not differentiate the two English high front vowels with a qualitative difference, and the more the task was hypothesised to require the learners to pay attention to factors other than pronunciation, the less they made a distinction between the two vowels. Among the four tasks used in the present study, the real word list was the best elicitor of the sufficient quality difference, while the worst was story retelling. However, for learners who could not make a distinction in less formal tasks, the degree of the distinction did not change according to the different tasks. Thus, the results suggest that the effect of the task type is not influential on all learners. The results of the present study may be applicable to the field of pronunciation teaching and of teaching materials.] -5- An empirical study of individual differences in L2 oral proficiency : what makes native-like speakers special / Tanja Angelovska [ Abstract : A number of linguistic and psychological factors shape the speaker's L2 (second language) pronunciation, accessed through his/her oral performance. If we want to explain why some L2 learners manage to attain a higher L2 spoken proficiency than others, we need to explain differences and similarities in the factors playing a role in their attainment of L2 pronunciatino. In this article I present findings from one part of a research study carried out at the University of Munich with 24 very advanced adult foreign language learners of English whose L1 is German or Macedonian. Questionnaire data are used to explore the following variables : types of motivation, strategies sought to improve pronunciation, personality type and specific musical abilities. The results of this small group study indicate that differences and similarities exist in terms of the variables that characterise native-like speakers. As a result, identifying relations between specific learner variables seems more useful than an analysis of each individual variable. This study concludes that learners' individual paths must be taken into account in order to explain each learner's profile of successful oral performance.] -C- TEACHING ISSUES -6- Speaking of speech : developing metalanguage for effective communication about pronunciation between English language teachers and learners / Helen Fraser [ Abstract : The idea of the pronunciation teacher acting, not merely as a giver of information, but as a coach, is welcomed by many teachers. However, difficulty can be experienced with one of the key responsabilities of a coach, that of offering "cues, suggestions and constructive feedback about performance" (Morley, 1991). It can be frustrating for both parties when learner find it hard to act on teachers' feedback to improve their pronunciation. This paper explores one factor in this difficulty : lack of shared metalanguage with which teachers and students can communicate about pronunciation. The term "metalanguage" is often assumed to refer only to technical terminology for the phonetic description of speech. However, such technical metalanguage can be difficult to master - even for teachers, let alone second language learners - so is not always ideal for effective communication. This paper suggests a broader use of the term "metalanguage" to refer to any way of speaking about speech and pronunciation, and advocates development of communicative metalanguage - consistent with, but complementary to, the technical metalanguage of phonetics and phonology - to suit the communication needs of different teaching contexts. The paper starts by reviewing some widely accepted insights about language and communication (Taylor, 2002), then shows how applying these same insights to pronunciation can enable teachers to provide feedback learners can understand and act upon easily. An important focus is the need for teachers to overcome the "literacy bias", and recognise that teaching pronunciation involves helping learners with concept formation.] -7- Phonology and Moodle : enhancing pronunciation through learning platform-based training? / Angela Hahn [ Abstract : The use of virtual leaning platform such as Moodle is advertised and promoted as a new opportunity for language learning, offering a number of input features as well as interactive features said to increase language output. For the area of phonology and pronunciation the use of an online learning platform cannot only be considered a new teaching tool, but also a new research device. Some of its features offer the possibility of giving individual feedback to learners and analysing their spoken language in a collaborative way, for example by using a specially designed colour coding system meant to help learners develop phonological awareness. Another interesting question to investigate is that of which and how learner variables have to be considered when designing the contents of the platform in order to finally find out which of its technology-based features can enhance phonological processes, foster the development of phonological concepts among learners from different language backgrounds and improve pronunciation skills of second language learners. This article is based on the initial results of an empirical study which was conducted at the University of Munich, to explore how second language learners of English use a Moodle-based phonology-pronunciation platform and how its use influences learner' phonological acquisition. The design of the study is described and the implications of the initial results are discussed.] -8- Temporal parameters in the implementation of the voicing contrast in English spoken by Poles : a pedagogical perspective / Arkadiusz Rojczyk [ Abstract : The present article discusses the implementation of the Voice Onset Time and vowel duration in the voicing contrast in English and Polish. Both the VOT and vowel duration are used differently in the two languages in cueing the voicing of consonants. While Polish exploits voicing lead and short lag categories in initial stops, English makes use of short lag and long lag for its voiced and voiceless consonants. As regards vowel duration, Polish belongs to a group of languages that devoice word-finally and thus do not vary vowel length functionally. English, on the other hand relies on this temporal parameter both in production and perception, in that vowels preceding voiced consonants are longer than the ones preceding voiceless consonants. The theoretical discussion of these differences is supplemented by pedagogical observations from the process of teaching English pronunciation to Poles. We provide a description of difficulties that Polish learners face in their attempt to attain correct control over these two parameters in English as well as a methodological account for teaching strategies used in our lab.] -9- The pedagogical implications of variability in transcription : the case of [i] and [u] / Sophie Herment [ Abstract : The problem of variability in transcription is raised in this paper through the analysis of the two sounds [i] and [u] in English, which appear in pronunciation dictionaries. The distribution for these sounds is not clear, the dictionaries often give different transcriptions and the literature does not help us with rules concerning the apparition of these sounds. This paper shows that from the study of the distribution of [i] and [u] and of the variants that are given in the two reference pronunciation dictionaries (the Cambridge English Pronunciation Dictionary, 17th ed. and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 3re ed.) rules can be drawn. We show that as Wells mentions in LPD3 (2008, p. 892), there are "implications for syllabification [...] and for rhythm". Morphology is also dealt with since the question of prefixes for example is a determining factor in the pronunciation of initial unstressed syllables. This study sheds light on many obscure details and contributes to the field of teaching English pronunciation because rules are given that enable the teacher and the student to understand the distribution of [i] and [u] and the different variants associated with them.] -10- Pronunciation teaching materials in finnish EFL textbooks / Elina Tergujeff [ Abstract : Recent pronunciation teaching literature suggests moving away from mechanical production concentrating on individual sounds, towards emphasising areas more important for intelligibility : stress, rhythm and intonation. The communicative approach has also gained ground in pronunciation teaching. This study explores what kind of pronunciation teaching materials Finnish EFL textbooks have to offer. In this textbook analysis, 16 Finnish EFL textbooks, exercise books and teacher's guides are systematically analysed. The analysis is based on a data-driven classification. The results reveal that phonetic transcription has a strong foothold in Finnish EFL textbooks, and that both traditional and newer methods are promoted. However, the textbooks lack explicit teaching materials on intonation, rhythm and connected speech.] -C- FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS -11- How could English truly become a new Latin? / Sylwia Scheuer [ Abstract : The position of global dominance that English has occupied for several decades is often compared to the role once played by Latin. However, it is often forgotten that the kind of Latin that conquered the Western world in the Early Middle Ages was in fact foreigners' Latin, which had previously parted company with the natural continuations of the ancient Romans' mother tongue, thus becoming a learned language. A useful analogy could be sought between Learned Latin and English as an International Language (EIL). The author sets out to discuss various facets of the Latin-English analogy, ultimately considering whether a codification of EIL - an endeavour widely supported nowadays - might represent the ultimate victory or the beginning of the demise of the English language teaching tradition.] -12- The PhonBank initiative and second language phonological development : innovative tools for research and data sharing / Yvan Rose [ Abstract : In this paper, I first introduce the PhonBank initiative within the CHILDES project, I then offer a brief overview of the Phon software program, and show how is provides unprecedented support for research on the second language acquisition of phonology. Phon is a free, open-source software program with a user-friendly graphical interface that facilitates a number of tasks required for the analysis of phonology and phonological acquisition. Corpora managed within Phon can be queried and exported through a powerful searching and reporting system. Example analyses are provided in the context of second language development, loanword phonology and research on the phonological properties of language dialects. Throughout the discussion, I also emphasise the importance of data sharing for everyone involved in research on phonology and language development.]
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Direction d'ouvrage, Proceedings, Dossier
First English Pronunciation: Issues & Practices (EPIP) conference, Jun 2009, Chambéry, France. Langages (9), Université de Savoie, pp.246, 2010, 978-2-915797-73-2
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Alice Henderson. English Pronunciation : Issues and Practices (EPIP): Proceedings of the First International Conference. June 3-5 2009, Université de Savoie, Chambéry, France. First English Pronunciation: Issues & Practices (EPIP) conference, Jun 2009, Chambéry, France. Langages (9), Université de Savoie, pp.246, 2010, 978-2-915797-73-2. 〈hal-00636626〉

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