Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2215-1931
  • E-ISSN: 2215-194X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


The central purpose of this study is to illustrate how ESL instructors can take a principled approach to setting pronunciation instruction priorities for learners. Elicited speech samples from 30 adult English learners were analysed for suprasegmental and segmental pronunciation features. Guided by Levis’ (2005) , results of the analysis led to recommended foci for pronunciation instruction. The study’s participants come from three distinct first language (L1) backgrounds (Mandarin Chinese, Colombian Spanish, and Slavic), reflecting the type of linguistic breadth found in typical ESL classrooms. It is recommended that problematic features observed in the speech of participants from all three L1s be addressed as a whole group, with each L1 group also receiving separate instruction for their specific difficulties. Finally, results of the speech analysis are compared with previously published material describing L1-specific pronunciation difficulties.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Anderson-Hsieh, J. , Johnson, R. , & Koehler, K.
    (1992) The relationship between native speaker judgements of nonnnative pronunciation and deviance in segmentals, prosody and syllable structure. Language Learning, 42(4), 529–555. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1992.tb01043.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1992.tb01043.x [Google Scholar]
  2. Audacity Team
    (2014) Audacity (Version 2.0.0) [Computer program]. RetrievedMay 1, 2014, from 〈audacityteam.org/
  3. Avery, P. , & Ehrlich, S.
    (1992) Teaching American English pronunciation. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Benrabah, M.
    (1997) Word-stress: A source of unintelligibility in English. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 35(3), 157–166. doi: 10.1515/iral.1997.35.3.157
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iral.1997.35.3.157 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bent, T. , & Bradlow, A.
    (2003) The inter language speech intelligibility benefit. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114(3), 1600–1610. doi: 10.1121/1.1603234
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1603234 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bent, T. , Bradlow, A. , & Smith, B.
    (2007) Segmental errors in different word positions and their effects on intelligibility of non-native speech. In M. Munro & O. Bohn (Eds.), Language experience in second language speech learning: In honor of James Emil Flege (pp. 331–347). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lllt.17.28ben
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.17.28ben [Google Scholar]
  7. Braun, B. , Lemhofer, K. , & Mani, N.
    (2011) Perceiving unstressed vowels in foreign-accented English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 129(1), 376–387. doi: 10.1121/1.3500688
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3500688 [Google Scholar]
  8. Brown, A.
    (1988) Functional load and the teaching of pronunciation. TESOL Quarterly, 22(4), 593–606. doi: 10.2307/3587258
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3587258 [Google Scholar]
  9. Catford, J.
    (1987) Phonetics and the teaching of pronunciation: A systemic description of English phonology. In J. Morley (Ed.), Current perspectives on pronunciation: Practices anchored in theory (pp.87–100). Washington, DC: TESOL.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Celce-Murcia, M. , Brinton, D. , & Goodwin, J.
    (2010) Teaching pronunciation: A course book and reference guide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Crystal, D.
    (1996) The past, present and future of English rhythm. Speak Out, 18, 8–13.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Derwing, T.
    (2010) Utopian goals for pronunciation teaching. In J. Levis & K. LeVelle (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1st Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, September 2009 (pp.24–37). Ames, IA: Iowa State University.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Derwing, T. , & Munro, M.
    (1997) Accent, intelligibility, and comprehensibility. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19(1), 1–16. doi: 10.1017/S0272263197001010
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263197001010 [Google Scholar]
  14. (2005) Second language accent and pronunciation teaching: A research-based approach. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 379–397. doi: 10.2307/3588486
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588486 [Google Scholar]
  15. Derwing, T. , & Rossiter, M.
    (2002) ESL learners' perceptions of their pronunciation needs and strategies. System, 30(2), 155–166. doi: 10.1016/S0346‑251X(02)00012‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(02)00012-X [Google Scholar]
  16. Dich, N. , & Pederson, B.
    (2013) Native language effects on spelling in English as a foreign language: A time-course analysis. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16(1), 51–68.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Erdener, V. , & Burnham, D.
    (2005) The role of audiovisual speech and orthographic information in nonnative speech production. Language Learning, 55(2), 191–228. doi: 10.1111/j.0023‑8333.2005.00303.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0023-8333.2005.00303.x [Google Scholar]
  18. Field, J.
    (2005) Intelligibility and the listener: The role of lexical stress. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 399–423. doi: 10.2307/3588487
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588487 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gass, S. , Behney, J. , & Plonsky, L.
    (2013) Second language acquisition: An introductory course (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Gass, S. , & Varonis, E.
    (1984) The effect of familiarity on the comprehensibility of non-native speech. Language Learning, 34(1), 65–89. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1984.tb00996.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1984.tb00996.x [Google Scholar]
  21. Gilner, L. , & Morales, F.
    (2010) Functional load: Transcription and analysis of the 10, 000 most frequent words in spoken English. Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics, 3(1), 135–161.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Gravano, A. , & Hirschberg, J.
    (2011) Turn-taking cues in task-oriented dialogue. Computer Speech and Language, 25(3), 601–634. doi: 10.1016/j.csl.2010.10.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csl.2010.10.003 [Google Scholar]
  23. Gussenhoven, C. , & Jacobs, H.
    (2011) Understanding phonology. London, UK: Hodder Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Jenkins, J.
    (2000) The phonology of English as an international language. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. (2002) A sociolinguistically based, empirically researched pronunciation syllabus for English as an international language. Applied Linguistics, 23(1), 83–103. doi: 10.1093/applin/23.1.83
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/23.1.83 [Google Scholar]
  26. Kang, O.
    (2013) Relative impact of pronunciation features on ratings of non-native speakers’ oral proficiency. In J. Levis & K. LeVelle (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, August 2012 (pp.10–15). Ames, IA: Iowa State University.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Levis, J.
    (1999) Intonation in theory and practice revisited. TESOL Quarterly, 33(1), 37–63. doi: 10.2307/3588190
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588190 [Google Scholar]
  28. (2005) Changing contexts and shifting paradigms in pronunciation teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 369–377. doi: 10.2307/3588485
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588485 [Google Scholar]
  29. Mei, L. , Xue, G. , Lu, Z. , He, Q. , Zhang, M. , Xue, F. , Chen, C. , & Dong, Q
    2013 Orthographic transparency modulates the functional asymmetry in the fusiform cortex: An artificial language training study. Brain and Language, 125(2), 165–172. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.01.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2012.01.006 [Google Scholar]
  30. Munro, M.
    (2011) Intelligibility: Buzzword or buzzworthy?In J. Levis & K. LeVelle (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, September 2010 (pp.7–16). Ames, IA: Iowa State University.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Munro, M. , & Derwing, T.
    (1995) Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 45(1), 73–97. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1995.tb00963.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1995.tb00963.x [Google Scholar]
  32. (2006) The functional load principle in ESL pronunciation instruction: An exploratory study. System, 34(4), 520–531. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2006.09.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2006.09.004 [Google Scholar]
  33. Munro, M. , Derwing, T. , & Thomson, R.
    (2015) Implications of naturalistic segment development for pronunciation teaching technology. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(1), 39–60. doi: 10.1515/iral‑2015‑0002
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2015-0002 [Google Scholar]
  34. Neef, M. , & Balestra, M.
    (2011) Measuring graphemic transparency: German and Italian compared. Written Language and Literacy, 14(1), 109–142. doi: 10.1075/wll.14.1.06nee
    https://doi.org/10.1075/wll.14.1.06nee [Google Scholar]
  35. Sewell, A.
    (2010) Research methods and intelligibility studies. World Englishes, 29(2), 257–269. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2010.01641.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2010.01641.x [Google Scholar]
  36. Shokeir, V.
    (2008) Evidence for the stable use of uptalk in South Ontario English. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Selected papers from NWAV36, 14(2), 14–24.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Tajima, K. , Port, R. , & Dalby, J.
    (1997) Effects of temporal correction on intelligibility of foreign-accented English. Journal of Phonetics, 25(1), 1–24. doi: 10.1006/jpho.1996.0031
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.1996.0031 [Google Scholar]
  38. Thomson, R. , & Derwing, T.
    (2015) The effectiveness of L2 pronunciation instruction: A narrative review. Applied Linguistics, 36(3), 326–344. doi: 10.1093/applin/amu076
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amu076 [Google Scholar]
  39. Trofimovich, P. , & Isaacs, T.
    (2012) Disentangling accent from comprehensibility. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(4), 905–916. doi: 10.1017/S1366728912000168
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728912000168 [Google Scholar]
  40. Walker, R.
    (2010) Teaching the pronunciation of English as a lingua franca. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Winters, S. , & O’Brien, M.
    (2013) Perceived accentedness and intelligibility: The relative contributions of F0 and duration. Speech Communication, 55(3), 486–507. doi: 10.1016/j.specom.2012.12.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.specom.2012.12.006 [Google Scholar]
  42. Yavaş, M.
    (2011) Applied English phonology. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9781444392623
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444392623 [Google Scholar]
  43. Zielinski, B.
    (2008) The listener: No longer the silent partner in reduced intelligibility. System, 36(1), 69–84. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2007.11.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2007.11.004 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): ESL; intelligibility; L1-influence; needs analysis; pronunciation
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error