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Alice Henderson

Abstract

This paper explores the linguistically naive descriptions which one set of EFL learners provided when identifying and describing accents. First and second-year English majors at a French university were asked to do two tasks. First, they listened to two extracts to determine whether the speaker’s accent sounded more British or American, and to explain which features helped them to decide. Later they answered two questions: a) What do you do when you want to sound more like an American? and b) more like a British person? The analysis of their answers highlights learners’ underlying representations of accents as well as concept formation in relation to English pronunciation. I argue that this cognitive aspect of L2 learning should be addressed explicitly in instruction.

Open access

Alice Henderson and Anna Jarosz

Abstract

This paper compares the treatment of English pronunciation in school textbooks from France and Poland, in order to see what resources teachers have at their disposal. It is limited to textbooks used at the secondary level of each education system. Recent research has shown that European teachers do not find teaching English pronunciation easy and that many are unsatisfied with their training in relation to teaching pronunciation (Bradford & Kenworthy 1991; Burgess and Spencer 2000; Henderson et al. 2012; Frost and Henderson, 2013; Iivonen, 2005). Textbooks are a widespread resource with the potential to alleviate a lack of extensive pedagogical training.

The first part of this paper analyses pronunciation exercises in a representative sample of textbooks from each country. Pronunciation exercises were classified based on the degree to which they mobilize communicative abilities, according to the five categories of a Communicative Framework for teaching pronunciation (Celce-Murcia et al., 2010, p45): Description & analysis, Listening discrimination, Controlled practice, Guided practice, Communicative practice. The first category involves little risk-taking by the learner, usually focusses on form and allows little freedom. At the other end of the spectrum, communicative practice involves a focus on meaning and interaction, with the concomitant greater freedom to make mistakes. The exercises were then analysed to see which segmental and/or prosodic features they favoured and to what extent.

Open access

Alice Henderson, Dan Frost, Elina Tergujeff, Alexander Kautzsch, Deirdre Murphy, Anastazija Kirkova-Naskova, Ewa Waniek-Klimczak, David Levey, Una Cunnigham and Lesley Curnick

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the main findings from a European-wide on-line survey of English pronunciation teaching practices. Both quantitative and qualitative data from seven countries (Finland, France, Germany, Macedonia, Poland, Spain and Switzerland) are presented, focusing on teachers' comments about:

● their own pronunciation,

● their training,

● their learners’ goals, skills, motivation and aspirations,

● their preferences for certain varieties (and their perception of their students' preferences).

The results of EPTiES reveal interesting phenomena across Europe, despite shortcomings in terms of construction and distribution. For example, most respondents are non-native speakers of English and the majority of them rate their own mastery of English pronunciation favourably. However, most feel they had little or no training in how to teach pronunciation, which begs the question of how teachers are coping with this key aspect of language teaching. In relation to target models, RP remains the variety of English which teachers claim to use, whilst recognizing that General American might be preferred by some students. Differences between countries are explored, especially via replies to open-ended questions, allowing a more nuanced picture to emerge for each country. Other survey research is also referred to, in order to contextualise the analyses and implications for teaching English and for training English teachers