Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 28, 2015

Setting segmental priorities for English learners: Evidence from a longitudinal study

Murray J. Munro, Tracey M. Derwing and Ron I. Thomson


Contemporary views of adult pronunciation instruction emphasize the development of intelligible speech using empirically-validated pedagogical principles. Because learners typically have limited time for pronunciation work, instruction should be provided in a way that maximizes the use of the available opportunities. However, achievement of such a goal entails applying detailed knowledge of the phonetic learning process with due attention to the nature of differences that arise among learners, whether they share or do not share the same native language. In this longitudinal investigation, we examined productions of consonants and consonant clusters in English learners from two language backgrounds over a two-year period. Extensive between- and within-group variability was observed, with some targets produced very well at the outset, and others improving over time. The results argue against a common curriculum for learners. Instead, pronunciation instruction that focuses on individual learners' needs is called for. The findings are discussed in terms of strategies that might be used to develop effective and efficient pedagogical practices.

Published Online: 2015-2-28
Published in Print: 2015-3-1

©2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston