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Unit information: Second Language Pronunciation and Fluency (SLPF) in 2016/17

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Unit name Second Language Pronunciation and Fluency (SLPF)
Unit code EDUCD0001
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Isaacs
Open unit status Not open



Other mandatory units on EdD TESOL Applied Linguistics pathway

School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit centres on second language (L2) pronunciation research, teaching, and assessment, with a secondary focus on L2 fluency. Some of the topics to be covered include intelligibility and breakdowns in communication, listener sensitivity to accents, integrating pronunciation and fluency into the communicative classroom, the role of pronunciation in L2 oral proficiency scales, pronunciation and issues of identity. Embedded in the unit is a rigorous focus on research methodology that will be taught through examining empirical studies in L2 pronunciation that stem from both sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic traditions. In addition to providing students with basic training in phonetics, the course will offer a clear practical component, involving diagnosing learner errors and developing instructional targets for improving their pronunciation/communication skills. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the unit is likely to be of interest to emerging scholars and educational practitioners with wide-ranging interests within applied linguistics that extend beyond pronunciation. The unit aims to systematically expose students to

  • The International Phonetic Alphabet symbols relevant for English and phoneme classification
  • the historical reasons for the marginalization of pronunciation from the Communicative classroom and applied linguistics research circles and the motivation for its resurgence
  • research conventions and the limitations of these conventions as a basis for critiquing theoretical underpinnings and methodological choices in empirical studies
  • a description of the learner error types most likely to lead to difficulties in intelligibility/comprehensibility and how learner needs can feed into a pronunciation syllabus
  • research on evaluative (and often prejudicial) judgments of accent and issues of identity
  • technological tools for measuring L2 pronunciation and fluency

Intended learning outcomes

The overarching intended learning outcome is for students to be able to critique and design empirical studies in L2 pronunciation and fluency with regard to both theoretical underpinnings, and methodological choices. By participating in this unit, students will understand

  • basic principles of English phoneme classification and International Phonetic Alphabet symbols
  • the historical reasons for the exclusion of pronunciation from both the Communicative classroom, and mainstream applied linguistics research circles and the motivation for the resurgence of interest in L2 pronunciation
  • that accents are one of the most perceptually salient aspects of speech and a potential source of listener bias
  • several ways of measuring L2 pronunciation and fluency, including instrumental techniques (i.e., using speech editing software)

Teaching details

Lectures Seminars Tutorials Blackboard

Assessment Details

The assessment for the course is in line with the assessment requirements of the other three TESOL/Applied Linguistics units (Researching Language Classroom, Language and Communication, Testing and Assessment in Language Learning), and will consist of a 4000 word (or equivalent) assignment on one of the topics covered in the course (or subject to approval by the tutor). There are two options. Both options reflect the course objective: “be able to critique and design empirical studies in L2 pronunciation and fluency with regard to both theoretical underpinnings, and methodological choices.” Option 1 will be a literature-based paper that involves synthesizing previous research on some aspect of pronunciation/communication or fluency. Through examining and reflecting on the body of evidence, the goal will be to arrive at a novel way of thinking about the subject matter (i.e., arriving at a new understanding of the topic or adopting a novel perspective to inform current practice). Option 2 will be a proposal for an empirical research study that targets some aspect of pronunciation/communication or fluency. The paper will include a focused literature review, research questions, and a methods section that discusses how the research will be addressed, including procedures for data collection and data analysis.

Reading and References

Bohn, O.-S. & Munro, M. J. (Eds.). (2007). Language experience in second language speech learning: In honor of James Emil Flege. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D., Goodwin, J., & Griner, B. (2010). Teaching pronunciation: a course book and reference guide (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hansen Edwards, J. & Zampini, M. (Eds.). (2008). Phonology and second language acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Jenkins, J. (2000). The phonology of English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Riggenbach, H. (Ed.). (2000). Perspectives on fluency. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Segalowitz, N. (2010). The cognitive bases of second language fluency. New York: Routledge.