A couple of days ago, an interesting discussion on accent in L2 teaching took place among some of the members of the AusELT Facebook Group after a link to a pronunciation course was posted. Accent has been a hot topic in L2 teaching because of its connection to, for example, speaker identity. However, something that research has been able to establish quite clearly is that a speaker can have a strong accent yet be perfectly intelligible and comprehensible (i.e. easily understood). Instead of summarizing research papers published in this fascinating area, I've decided to post a few references for your perusal. This list is, of course, not exhaustive, and so feel free to add any (accent-related) articles you think would be worthwhile for L2 teachers and researchers to read.
Bao, Z. (2003). Social stigma and grammatical autonomy in nonnative varieties of English. Language in Society, 32(01), 23-46.
Buckingham, L. (2015). Shades of cosmopolitanism: EFL teachers' perspectives on English accents and pronunciation teaching in the Gulf. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 1-16.
Hayes-Harb, R., & Hacking, J. (2015). Beyond rating data: What do listeners believe underlies their accentedness judgments? Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 1(1), 43-64.
Lev-Ari, S., & Keysar, B. (2010). Why don't we believe non-native speakers? The influence of accent on credibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(6), 1093-1096.
Munro, M. J. (2003). A primer on accent discrimination in the Canadian context. TESL Canada Journal, 20(2), 38-51.
Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (1995). Foreign accent, comprehensibility and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 45(1), 73-97.
Murphy, J. (2014). Intelligible, comprehensible, non-native models in ESL/EFL pronunciation teaching. System, 42(0), 258-269.
At the end of January I had the privilege of attending/speaking at the 1st Mekong TESOL Conference in Can Tho, Vietnam (see Photo Gallery for photos). The conference theme "Tailoring English Teaching to Regional Needs" nicely captured what our field has been working hard to establish in the past couple of decades: every context is unique and a one-size-fits-all method, as was assumed with CLT in the 1980s and early 90s, does not work. It was great to see the conference being organized by local practitioners and researchers engaged in second language (L2) teaching in Vietnam. This was very much a conference by locals for locals. Overall, this experience gave me a renewed appreciation for L2 teaching in Southeast Asia. It also helped me better understand the challenges many L2 teachers face in Vietnam. In fact, I would really like to return to the Mekong region in the near future to conduct research on local teachers' practices (particularly on pronunciation pedagogy and speaking strategies) and what these practices mean for their students and their L2 learning process (although, granted, this would be an outsider's perspective on local practices). But for now, I'm going to incorporate some of these new insights into the graduate course on TESOL methodology I'm teaching this coming semester.
Interested in local pedagogy? Here are two books I think every instructor/researcher/administrator involved in L2 teaching needs to read:
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Canagarajah, S. A. (Ed.). (2005). Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
I am a Senior Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. This blog is a reflection of my journey as a researcher, L2 teacher educator, and language teacher.