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Voice and Mirroring in L2 Pronunciation Instruction

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Voice and Mirroring in L2 Pronunciation Instruction presents approaches to teaching pronunciation which aim for learners to internalize the “voices” (complexes of linguistic and non-linguistic features that embody particular speakers’ emotion, social stance, and group identification) of proficient speakers of the L2. It begins with a review of “bottom-up” and “top-down” approaches to pronunciation teaching. It then considers research published since 1979 showing the powerful impact of sociolinguistic context on L2 pronunciation, as well as recent second-language acquisition (SLA) theoretical frameworks emphasizing the role of social and contextual factors in shaping interlanguage systems. On the basis of this review, the authors argue that a top-down approach which begins with social context is preferred in both research and teaching of L2 pronunciation. Such an approach includes the essential social factors of L2 pronunciation such as interlocutor, empathy, and nonverbal elements, which influence the meaningful use of L2 forms.

The book reviews both previously published and new unpublished findings in interlanguage phonology and variationist sociolinguistic approaches to SLA, including Bakhtinian sociocultural theory, to show how language learners who internalize the voices of proficient speakers of the L2 can dramatically (and unconsciously) shift their pronunciation patterns as they enact these voices for their own purposes in unplanned speech. Such studies support the view that the construct of voice and the influence of social contextual factors are critical in shaping interlanguage systems and raise a number of important pedagogical implications for addressing learning outcomes in L2 pronunciation and intelligibility. The authors then describe in detail top-down approaches to teaching pronunciation, including those engaging language play, role play, and drama techniques. They highlight the Mirroring Project to teaching pronunciation, including the instructional activities that have been used in a variety of teaching and learning settings in the U.S. (e.g., in International Teaching Assistant pronunciation course programs, intensive English language programs, and Adult Basic Education programs), as an effective top-down approach for L2 pronunciation instruction. The approaches reviewed demonstrate how this project can help language learners modify their L2 pronunciation patterns and improve their intelligibility as they internalize and channel the voices of speakers they have selected as models.

The audience for the volume includes language teachers, particularly those desiring to use top-down pedagogical approaches like the Mirroring Project to improve learners’ intelligibility by modifying their suprasegmentals and paralinguistic patterns, as well as academic researchers interested in studying the way adults can acquire second language phonology by holistically adopting and channeling the voices of speakers they admire. The book is also of potential interest to language teacher educators, curriculum developers, and textbook writers.

Published: Jan 1, 2023