Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching

Страна: США

Город: Dallas

Тезисы до: 15.04.2015

Даты: 16.10.15 — 17.10.15

Е-мейл Оргкомитета:

Организаторы: University of California


An obvious way in which people can be identified as second language speakers is through their prosody. Prosody is a term used in contemporary linguistics to refer to properties of spoken language that include variations in pitch, volume, timing, and voice quality. With easily available computer programs it is now possible to represent these properties visually and to measure them. Any or all of them can be diagnostic of non-nativeness, with individuals varying in their ability to reproduce them accurately in a second language. I will illustrate their relevance with examples from speakers of English as a second language who might be considered completely fluent in other respects.


Ann Wennerstrom, Ph.D., J.D.

ESL in Handcuffs: Pronunciation and Forensic Linguistics


Recently a new opportunity for pronunciation professionals has begun to enter the academic scene: forensic linguistics, the study of language for legal evidentiary purposes. Pronunciation assessment may contribute to an overall linguistic determination of such questions as whether a criminal suspect understood his constitutional rights or consented voluntarily to a search. Analysis of pronunciation may also be needed in voice recognition or to identify the geographical origin of an individual. If we as pronunciation specialists are to embrace forensic applications, we will need to face certain challenges. The field of pronunciation has blossomed for decades due mainly to the need for international and immigrant professionals (such as graduate students or businesspeople) to be understood in English-dominant host countries. However, in forensic linguistic settings there is no “learner” with such communication goals.

Accordingly, fundamental assumptions about pronunciation assessment and analysis may need to be reexamined. For example, while we may disagree over methods to improve comprehensibility, we tend to share the expectation that learners will try to do well on the tasks we put before them. Yet, in a forensic linguistic setting, a criminal suspect may deliberately attempt to “fake” a low level of English proficiency in order to prove that he did not understand his constitutional rights. Likewise, while we may debate how to lower the test-taking anxiety or fatigue of our students in gatekeeping pronunciation assessments, few of us have conducted language assessments in a jail cell. The presenter will discuss applications and implications of pronunciation for forensic purposes.

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