AusELT/English Australia Journal presents: Article Discussion Group for November, 2015

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Burri, M. (2015). ‘My perspective changed dramatically’: A case for preparing L2 instructors to teach pronunciation. English Australia Journal, vol 32.1, pp. 19-37.

Access the article to read online here, or download the pdf from here.


Michael Burri’s articles focuses on the challenging area of preparing teachers to teach pronunciation. For a multitude of reasons (some understandable, and others due to misunderstandings), many language teachers are reluctant to teach pronunciation. This is possibly due to being ill-prepared in their initial or in-service teacher education and training. Michael’s research demonstrates that an increased awareness of English varieties and accents can be beneficial in helping teachers understand more about the goal of pronunciation instruction. This is an important step in improving the way pronunciation is taught in English language programs, however the relationship between teacher cognition and their classroom practices is anything but straightforward.

Michael’s paper gives us an opportunity to understand more about research into teacher cognition, as well as to consider ways that we, as an English  language teaching community with quite a bit in common, can support each other in improving pronunciation teaching practices. Michael offers a convincing case for understanding more about varieties of English and non-native speakers’ accents. It is certainly my own experience that some of my students have said that they do not wish to have a native-like accent in English, but they want to be understood when they speak.

Michael’s research methodology involved a group of 15 mixed-nationality participants taking a postgraduate TESOL subject in pronunciation. As well as covering the usual aspects, this subject included a focus on helping the student teachers develop an appreciation of English varieties and accents. Michael designed the research based on case studies, using questionnaires, focus group discussions, and classroom observations. This is important in teacher cognition research, for what teachers say and what they do do not always match up, for many reasons.

So, we have a study of teacher cognition (beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and knowledge) related to teaching pronunciation, with a case study design involving a variety of data sources, using a class of postgraduate students taking a pronunciation subject in a postgraduate TESOL course.

Opening questions:

1) How confident and effective are you at teaching pronunciation?

2) To what degree are you confident that you understand enough about English varieties and accents to adequately teach pronunciation to your students?

We’re fortunate to have Michael available to comment when required, and I’ll do the moderation of the discussion, though I’m hoping it will flow without need ing too much input from me.

Phil Chappell, Executive Editor, English Australia Journal

Please post your comments on the AusELT Facebook page.

(Image accessed from

Vote for the last #AusELT Twitter chat of the year!!

It’s the last chat of the yeeeeeeeeaaaaarrrrrr!!

Here are some of the 2015 topics that snuck in under the radar but which plenty of people wanted to talk about:

Please vote and the most popular will be the subject for discussion at the last Twitter chat of the yeeeeeeeeaaaaaarrrr, Thurs 5th Nov, 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are).

Hope to see you there!

This post by @sophiakhan4 and @Penultimate_K

AusELT/English Australia Journal Article Discussion Group: Voting page



The article chosen for discussion is “‘My perspective changed dramatically’: A case for preparing L2 instructors to teach pronunciation”, authored by Michael Burri.

The remainder of this week (3/11/15 to 8/11/15) is for reading the article. Discussion questions will be posted next Monday (9/11/15) and the discussion will begin.

Access the article to read online here, or download the pdf from here.

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Welcome to the voting page of the third Article Discussion Group. The idea is for us all to vote for our preferred article from the latest English Australia Journal, read it, and then join in a moderated discussion of the article. Authors will either join in on the discussion, or respond offline to points raised and questions asked, facilitated by the moderator. The discussion will take place on the #AusELT Facebook page and is scheduled for 2-8 November (Reading time) and 9-15 November (Discussion time).

The articles are all relevant to many of the contexts in which AusELT folk practice. They are primary research articles, that is, the authors have devised and conducted their own research study and reported their findings. In addition, each article has been peer-reviewed, meaning that the editor has invited leading TESOL scholars to review and offer suggestions for improving earlier drafts. We have some excellent reviewers who, together with the authors, have ensured you receive the best quality research reports upon which you can make some decisions about your own teaching.

In order to assist those who are new to reading research articles, the moderator will orient you by providing a summary of the research design and the overall purpose of the research. The discussion will not only focus on how the article can inform your own teaching, but also on opportunities for further research in any form. It will hopefully spark ideas for improving the quality of life in many classrooms! Each article has an abstract for you to read; after all, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a research article by its title. The complete articles are all open access, freely available online here (article 31.1) and can also be downloaded in pdf here. The chosen article will be made available as a pdf and available for download on this page.

Code switching in ESL classrooms: A study of adult Arabic learners

Manar Larbah and Rhonda Oliver, Curtin University

Code switching (CS) between the first language (L1) and the target language (TL) in the second language classroom has been the focus of recent second language acquisition research. This paper reports on a study that investigated adult Arabic students’ use of CS in four university classrooms in Western Australia.

An analysis of the data found that the use of CS was present in second language classrooms. Further, regardless of Arabic students’ proficiency level, CS fulfils important functions. Overall, access to the L1 through CS assisted the learners to develop linguistic competence in the TL and worked to benefit their language learning. Therefore, it is important that teachers understand that switching between L1 and the TL can enhance language acquisition.

‘My perspective changed dramatically’: A case for preparing L2 instructors to teach pronunciation

Michael Burri, University of Wollongong

Over the past two decades, pronunciation has slowly regained some of its former prominence in the second language (L2) classroom. Yet, despite this renewed interest, L2 instructors often perceive it to be one of the most challenging areas to teach. Specialists, therefore, suggest that preparing pronunciation teachers is a much needed area in the field of language teaching, but little is known about the education of pronunciation instructors and its potential impact on prospective teachers. This article reports on a qualitative case study in which questionnaires, focus groups, classroom observations and semi- structured interviews were employed to obtain insights on the impact of a postgraduate pronunciation subject on 15 student teachers’ cognition (beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and knowledge) about pronunciation pedagogy. Findings revealed that the subject had a notable effect on the development of participants’ cognition about pronunciation instruction and its goal. Group work/discussions and comparisons of accents increased student teachers’ awareness about the value of non-native English varieties and accents, which in turn facilitated a change in participants’ beliefs that the objective of pronunciation instruction should not be accent elimination. The article concludes with a discussion about implications for L2 teacher educators and language instructors teaching English pronunciation in their classrooms.

Uncovering and Understanding International Students’ Prior Learning

Tracey Gibbs and David Feith, Monash College

Prior learning experiences impact on how international students adjust to the educational environment in Australia. International students in pre-university Foundation Year programs are in a transition period, moving from the educational environments in their home countries to universities in Australia. In this transition they have to successfully adapt to the demands of university systems in Australia. This action research project explored students’ perspectives of their prior learning through focus groups, in order to assist teaching staff to better understand the background and needs of the students. It found there is a wide variety of challenging factors that students need to adjust to. The main factors are: academic writing with referencing; time management, including having multiple assignments at the same time; independent research; and class discussions.

So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Sunday November 1, 2015 at 5 pm DST [VOTING IS NOW CLOSED] Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ, Executive Editor of the English Australia Journal)

October’s #AusELT chat: advance warning

Now, usually we are due for an #AusELT chat on the first Thursday of the month – but for October we have made a decision to postpone by one week, for the following reasons:

  • the English Australia Conference 2015 just wrapped up in Brisbane a few days ago;
  • many of our regulars are still travelling/recovering/hungover; and
  • 1st October has sneakily managed to also be the 1st Thursday of the month, thus taking us all by surprise.

So, the next #AusELT Twitter chat will take place on Thurs 8th October at 8.30 Sydney time (check here to see the time where you are).

The topic will be “Conference wrap-up and other interesting ideas”, and will basically be a 1-hour swap shop.

Come and share what you saw, what you loved, what you found interesting or controversial about the 2015 English Australia Conference.

Don’t worry if you didn’t go. You can still share new/interesting ideas that have come your way lately. Things that spring to mind from the #AusELT Facebook page recently include haptic pronunciation teaching; heutagogy; mentorship programmes; Periscope…I’m sure you can think of more.

Looking forward to e-seeing you all then!

NB: New members/New to Twitter? Please see the Twitter page on the blog for help and ‘how-to’. Come along and try it out!

This post by @sophiakhan4

Upcoming: #AusELT Twitter chat Thursday 3 September 2015: LGBTQIA issues in course-books and classrooms


Our next #AusELT chat will look at LGBTQIA issues in course-books and classrooms. While some communities and countries are moving rapidly towards greater equality and acceptance, others go more slowly, and there are places where it isn’t safe to identify as LGBTQIA at all. From these communities and countries come our students (and also our teachers) into classrooms which are diverse in more ways than just nationality mix.

Things to consider:

The course-books that we use are, for the most part, heteronormative in their content. How could those who identify as LGBTQIA be better represented?

Does the language that we teach need to change to reflect growing equality and acceptance?

What issues are faced by LGBTQIA teachers and students and those who study and work with them?

A brief introduction to the topic can be found in the pre-reading below:

Vote for Thursday’s #AusELT chat

The next #AusELT Twitter chat will take place on Thurs 3rd September 2015 at 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are in the world). Vote for the topic you would like to talk about here or on our Facebook page)

See you on Thursday!

Upcoming #AusELT Twitter chat Thurs 6th Aug 2015: Mobile language learning: Moving from ‘why’ to ‘how’, with guest moderator Mark Pegrum

Unsurprisingly for a community that grew out of social media, the topic of technology for learning and development has always been a cornerstone for #AusELT. One of our first ever Twitter chats back in 2012 was on experiences with technology in the classroom. In 2013, Paul Driver wrote an excellent and widely shared post for us on the topic of gamification in learning (you can read the summary here), and in 2014, Scott Thornbury’s thought-provoking post, ‘Edtech: The mouse that roared?’, generated so many tweets that the summary had to be divided into four separate posts! Later that year we were back with Huw Jarvis, the man behind the very helpful TESOL academic website of open-access keynotes, research and publications. Huw was concerned with how teachers and learners perceive mobile-assisted language use, and you can read the summary here. 4742869256_8d8e8e67e3_zIn 2015, the debate continues . . . but are we really moving forward? Those of us actively discussing the issue seem to agree that m-learning, used effectively and not just for the sake of it, has real value when based on sound pedagogy. Yet we are often stuck in a situation where institutions or colleagues still advocate the blind banning of mobiles in the classroom.

In our next #AusELT Twitter chat on Thursday 6th August 2015 at 6.30pm Perth time, 8.30pm Sydney time [click here to check the time elsewhere in the world], we would like to focus on how rather than if m-learning can work to our students’ benefit, and we are very lucky to have Mark Pegrum join us as guest moderator on this topic. EAJ 30.2_CT_10 Qs for Mark Pegrum_IMAGEApart from being an all round general nice guy, Mark is also an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at The University of Western Australia, where he teaches and researches in the areas of e-learning and mobile learning. His recent books include: From Blogs to Bombs: The Future of Digital Technologies in Education (2009); Digital Literacies (co-authored with Gavin Dudeney & Nicky Hockly, 2013); and Mobile Learning: Languages, Literacies and Cultures (2014). Before the chat, please have a think about the following questions, suggested by Mark. We will use these to guide our discussion.

  • How do you and your students currently use mobile devices for language learning inside and outside the classroom?
  • How can you imagine you and your students using mobile devices for language learning in the future?
  • How does the learning enabled by mobile devices differ from learning with more traditional desktop and laptop computers?
  • What are your institution’s views on the use of mobile devices for language learning, and how do these views support or hinder your ability to use mobile devices in your teaching?
  • What, if anything, would need to change for you and your students to make more, or better, use of mobile devices for language learning?

And of course please bring along your own questions – the more the merrier :) If you are new to Twitter, please check out the resources available here and don’t be shy – we are a very friendly bunch and will happily help you out getting the hang of things! See you on Thurs 6th Aug!

This post by @sophiakhan4 and @OzMark17