Following the AAAL conference, I will present twice at the 2015 TESOL Convention in Toronto (March 26-28, 2015). The first one is a research-oriented paper and is part of my doctoral research. It has been awarded the TESOL Award for an Outstanding Paper on NNEST Issues, and focuses on the impact of a postgraduate course on non-native student teacher cognition about pronunciation pedagogy. Here is the abstract of the session:
Exploring the Development of NNEST Cognition about Pronunciation Pedagogy
This session presents a study exploring how the cognition (thoughts, beliefs, and knowledge) of ten non-native student teachers developed during a graduate course on pronunciation pedagogy. Based on findings, implications for training NNEST in pronunciation teaching will be discussed and general recommendations for effective language teacher education will be made.
The second presentation is a workshop I'm doing with several colleagues from Vancouver. As in previous years, we'll be training session attendees in the use of haptic pronunciation teaching techniques. It would be great to see you there:
Haptic (English) Pronunciation Teaching Workshop
This workshop introduces a set of six haptic (movement + touch)-based techniques for presenting and correcting English L2 pronunciation, applicable for intermediate English language learners and above. Guided by research on kinaesthetic approaches to L2 pronunciation instruction, the presenters train participants to use the instructional techniques in their classrooms.
I will be presenting some of the findings of my doctoral research at the upcoming AAAL conference in Toronto (March 21-24, 2015). If you are attending AAAL and are interested in pronunciation teaching and language teacher cognition/education, I suggest you join my session. Here is the abstract:
Exploring Cognition Development of Pre-service and In-service Pronunciation Teachers: A Qualitative Case Study
This presentation discusses a qualitative case study exploring the cognition knowledge, attitudes and beliefs) development of ten inexperienced (pre-service) and five experienced (in-service) pronunciation teachers during a graduate course on pronunciation pedagogy offered at an Australian institution. Based on research findings, recommendations for training pronunciation teachers are made.
Reading about the complexity of L2 teacher education is one thing, but wrestling with the issue as part of my PhD has been an eye-opening experience. Having been involved in second language teacher education (SLTE) in a variety of contexts over the past few years, I have seen first-hand how student teachers learn, internalize and embrace course content. Others struggled, developed negative attitudes and seemed to learn little. However, analysing (this is an ongoing process) an enormous amount of data I collected last year has helped me better understand the magnitude educating and preparing L2 teachers entails.
In a nutshell, my study examines how pronunciation teachers are prepared. This is an interesting area because little has been done in the context of pronunciation teacher preparation and because many (if not most) L2 teachers find pronunciation challenging to teach (Foote, Holtby, & Derwing, 2011; Macdonald, 2002). What’s intriguing is that many factors facilitate or restrict the development of student teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts (i.e. cognition). Yet, the fact that these components are almost impossible to be separated (Borg, 2006) complicates things. Additionally, the process of learning to teach L2 (or in my research context, learning to teach pronunciation) appears to be an individualistic, uneven and complicated process. In other words, what works for one student teachers, may not work for another one, and be downright wrong for a third teacher candidate. These challenges seem to be rather overwhelming and you may question why anyone would get involved in educating L2 teachers. My research, however, suggests that SLTE does work and can be effective. At same time, it holds enormous potential for educators to shape teacher candidates’ lives and send them off well-equipped to teach language in whatever context that might eventually be. So, although being involved in SLTE has its challenges, it is definitely an exciting enterprise which should not become boring anytime soon. Papers that I’m now working on will support this. Stay tuned!
Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum.
Foote, J. A., Holtby, A. K., & Derwing, T. M. (2011). Survey of the teaching pronunciation in adult ESL programs in Canada, 2010. TESL Canada Journal, 29(1), 1-22.
Macdonald, S. (2002). Pronunciation – views and practices of reluctant teachers. Prospect, 17(3), 3-18.
Below is short but cool account of an experience I had last night. It is a Facebook post but thought it was quite relevant to L2 practitioners too (hence the double posting):
Today, our neighbour – a PhD student from Nigeria – bought one of the biggest TVs I've ever seen, and he asked me, a fellow student from Pakistan (Med School) and one from Sri Lanka (Engineering) to carry that old sucker up to the third floor to his apartment. It was a brutal task, but there was so much laughter and joking in the hallway! Only when I got back to my place, it hit me that tonight I had the privilege of experiencing for a brief but awesome moment what it means for humans with completely different value systems, languages, ethnicities, and cultures to live together in peace and harmony. In stark contrast to events shown in the media every day, these few minutes of carrying a TV up the stairwell were extremely refreshing!
I’m part of a listserv that consists of folks (based around the world) specializing in pronunciation teaching and research. A couple of weeks ago, one of the members raised an interesting point I had never considered: refugees studying English as second language may be unable to hear sounds and subsequently struggle with pronouncing them because of hearing impairment they suffered while residing in war zones. This makes sense, but I now wonder how many of my former students had hearing problems without me knowing about it. Therefore, I think that goes to show that to facilitate our students' learning process (more) effectively, we language teachers would be well-advised to make every possible effort to get to know our students on a personal level.
It’s been almost a week since I returned from the 2014 AILA conference in Brisbane. Having been inspired by Tom Farrell (giving a talk on reflective practice/inquiry), here are a few thoughts about the conference:
At the upcoming AILA conference in Brisbane (August 10-15), Amanda Baker and I will be presenting some of the results of a study we conducted at a postsecondary institution in Wollongong last year. If are you attending AILA and you are interested in pronunciation teaching, I suggest you join our session. Below are the details:
Kinaesthetic/Tactile Pronunciation Instruction and Second Language Learner Fluency
This paper outlines the findings of an empirical, classroom-based research project that examined the effects of haptic (movement and touch) pronunciation instruction on second language learners' fluency. Implications for pronunciation pedagogy and general language teaching will be discussed.
Location: Convention Center, room M2
Date and time: August 15, 2014; 08:00-08:30am
In the last few months I've done quite a bit of work in the area of accents and English varieties, particularly in a pronunciation teaching context. I've also compiled a literature review on phonological approaches to literacy instruction in public schools. In the process I've come across research that investigated whether teacher dialects have an effect on pupils' literacy development (e.g. Terry et al, 2012), which I find extremely fascinating. If this were indeed the case, imagine all the implications! How about English pronunciation instruction? Studies have revealed that (even heavily) accented English speakers can be comprehensible and intelligible (e.g. Munro & Derwing, 1995; Murphy, 2014), but I doubt the corporate world agrees with this when it comes to hiring practices (see Munro, 2003, for an interesting discussion). Another intriguing aspect of dialects, accents and non-native varieties of English is that they are not only indicators of someone’s speech community but, more importantly, they are an intricate part of a speaker's identity. Reflecting on these random thoughts, I wonder whether second language teachers are doing enough justice to their L2 learners' accents or if many of them continue to aim for unrealistic goals for their students such as attaining native-speaker pronunciation.....with this thought I call it a week!!
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.
Terry, N. P., Connor, C. M., Petscher, Y., & Conlin, C. R. (2012). Dialect variation and reading: Is change in nonmainstream American English use related to reading achievement in first and second grades? Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 55(1), 55-69.
A few weeks ago I attended a seminar on embodied cognition (see, for example, Pouw, van Goug, & Paas, 2014, for a discussion; or Holme, 2012, for an excellent article situated in an L2 context). Professor Fred Paas began his talk by questioning whether there was such a thing as talent, and suggested that success was rather a result of practice. As an L2 practitioner, teacher educator, and researcher that really resonated with me because practice is definitely an important aspect when it comes to mastering a new language, and also because it bascially means that everyone can learn an L2. One piece of his talk I found particularly interesting, however, was when he proposed that in schools, physical activity and learning are usually kept as two separate entities, and therefore children’s learning and development are unnecessarily restricted. In my experience, many L2 teachers tend to shy away from utilizing kinaesthetic aspects in their classrooms (especially in EAP contexts); however, if you have ever had the privilege of witnessing a teacher making effective use of movements in his/her classroom, you probably noticed immediately that most students not only enjoy moving around but also learn in the process. In fact, I would argue that they learn much more effectively than in a traditional (unmoving) classroom because multiple modalities are engaged. Do you make use of movement in your classrooms? If so, it’d be delighted (and moved) to hear from you!
Pouw, W., van Gog, T. & Paas, F. (2014). An embedded and embodied cognition review of instruction manipulatives. Educational Psychological Review, 26 (1), 51-72.
Holme, R. (2012). Cognitive linguistics and the second language classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 46(1), 6-29.
I am a Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. I blog about L2 learning, L2 teaching, L2 teacher education, and research.