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.
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.
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
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