The Effects Of Pronunciation Instruction On The Production Of Second Language Spanish: A Classroom Study
Camus-Oyarzún, Pablo Andrés
Evidence suggests that pronunciation instruction is just as effective as grammar or vocabulary instruction (Lee et al., 2014; Thomson & Derwing, 2014). Despite supporting research, pronunciation instruction in the Spanish as a foreign language (L2) curricula is often excluded or relegated as a peripheral component, likely because practitioners do not have the proper training on how to teach it (Arteaga 2000; Lord & Fionda, 2014). Even though studies in Spanish L2 pronunciation instruction are still scarce, they have found that pronunciation instruction leads to gains in L2 native-like perception and production (Casino, 1996; González Bueno, 1997; Elliot, 1995, 1997; Lord, 2005, 2008 2010; Kissling 2013, 2014); however, most researchers agree that methodological refinement is needed before jumping to robust conclusions, especially in terms of length of intervention, diverse outcome measures or the inclusion of a control group.The present study aims to address several of these issues by examining the effectiveness of second language pronunciation instruction on adult L2 learners of Spanish in a classroom. Eighty-three (n=83) learners of Spanish as a second language were recruited. Participants in the experimental condition (n=38) received instruction on commonly difficult segments in L2 Spanish for first language (L1) English speakers in a classroom setting from the beginning to the end of a semester (12 weeks). The outcome measures in this study included an acoustic analysis, as measured by a word-reading task on the development of voiceless plosives /p, t, k/; and also included human rating analysis, as measured by a controlled paragraph-reading task and a spontaneous picture-description task. Furthermore, this study explores the extent to which pronunciation contributes to intelligible speech in L2 Spanish. For that reason, experienced first language (L1) Spanish bilinguals rated elicited speech in terms of accentedness (i.e. linguistic nativelikeness) and comprehensibility (i.e. ease of understanding). In addition, this study seeks to shed light on the effectiveness of teaching pronunciation while considering the level of instruction (first, second, and third year students).Results suggest that pronunciation instruction is beneficial to all voiceless plosives phones in the acoustic analysis in which there was a main effect of time, which varies by condition but not by level. In the case of human rating analysis, results suggest that these effects are only perceived by raters at the controlled level in terms of accentedness. Finally, instruction was beneficial at the three curricular levels, suggesting that pronunciation instruction should be part of different stages in the Spanish L2 curricular sequence.Results are discussed in terms of its theoretical, methodological and pedagogical implications. A special emphasis is given on the advantages of pronunciation instruction and a call for more teachers and practitioners to include it in the L2 Spanish classroom.
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