Dr. Tracey Derwing
Simon Fraser University
L2 Pronunciation Teaching and Research: A Snapshot of Current Issues
For decades, applied linguists decried the lack of both pedagogical research and instruction of L2 pronunciation, particularly for English. Teachers were reluctant to incorporate pronunciation into their classes for many reasons, but primarily because they didn’t know where to begin. The last fifteen years, however, have seen a dramatic increase in applied L2 research, and a greater awareness of a need for a focus on pronunciation in teacher education. The current status of pronunciation research for pedagogical purposes will be described, including issues of the ultimate goals of intelligibility and comprehensibility, rather than native-like accuracy. Although there is a long history of L2 phonetics research, much of that work has not made its way into pedagogical circles, although that is beginning to change. However, ‘accent reduction,’ as opposed to ‘pronunciation instruction’ has become a popular and lucrative niche for entrepreneurs who may have no appropriate training to facilitate more comprehensible L2 speech. Other ssues that concern the teaching of L2 pronunciation, such as assessment and appropriate approaches to training will be touched on. Furthermore, the responsibilities of the interlocutor will also be discussed: for too long the L2 learner has borne most of the burden of communication.
Dr. Tracey Derwing is a professor emeritus of TESL (Educational Psychology) at the University of Alberta, and an Adjunct Professor in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University. With Murray Munro, she has extensively researched L2 pronunciation and fluency, especially the relationships among intelligibility, comprehensibility, and accent. In 2015, they co-published Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research, a comprehensive examination of pronunciation research with relevance for the classroom. Tracey has also investigated native speakers’ speech modifications for L2 speakers, and interventions to enhance native speakers’ comprehension of L2 accented speech. In addition, she has conducted workplace studies involving pronunciation and pragmatics. As a director of The Prairie Metropolis Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration for eleven years, Tracey has a strong interest in factors contributing to successful social integration of newcomers, most notably, the development of strong oral communication skills. She served as a consultant for The City of Edmonton in the development of strategies to attract and retain more newcomers, and she was commissioned by the federal government for several documents on L2 learning. Tracey also co-organized two conferences for federal civil servants to help them understand newcomers’ linguistic challenges.