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Plenary Speeches: Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication

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Christina Lee

on 16 October 2012

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Transcript of Plenary Speeches: Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication

"21 Accents" accentedness
comprehensibility
intelligibility Dimensions Social Aspects:
The authors discuss the costs and benefits that may be associated with speaking in a foreign accent, and
Touches on issues of accent and identity, discrimination and listener responsibility. Social Aspects Business approach:
Offer "quick fix" solutions to accent elimination, ex over the course of 28 days
Tend to be expensive and based on solutions without scientific basis Teaching pronunciation: 3 approaches May signal to an interlocutor the need for modified input
It is often viewed as evidence of sophistication or intelligence (especially European accents)
Maurice Chevalier: required to exaggerate his French accent because viewers find it charming Benefits the degree of a listener’s actual comprehension of an utterance. the listener’s perception of how easy or difficult it is to understand a given speech sample. This dimension is a judgment of difficulty and not a measure of how much actually gets understood. how different a pattern of speech sounds compared to the local variety. Accentedness Comprehensibility Intelligibility Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication Speaking with an L2 accent carries strong social, psychological and communicative consequences. Core issues for L2 learners include intelligibility, identity, social evaluation and discrimination of appropriate pronunciation pedagogy. Reemerged interest in pronunciation research in relation to the changing view on pedagogy. Key Concepts Who is the real Amy Walker? Teaching Pronunciation Is it necessary? What's the focus? Who should teach
pronunciation? Exposure to L2 over time results in improvements to pronunciation, to a certain extent, without targeted instruction The aim of pronunciation instruction was native-like speech-an unrealistic goal In addition, pronunciation instruction failed to improve intelligibility, so it was thought to be ineffective, even though intelligibility was not the goal It is more effective to focus on macroscopic aspects of language such as general speaking habits, volume, stress, rhythm, syllable structure and segmentals with a high functional load

-Loss of intelligibility


-Discrimination and racism in host society


-Risk of losing touch with L1 and cultural identity Accent and Identity:
How can we help second language learners communicate successfully without tampering with the speaker's sense of self and cultural identity?
-In the interest of avoiding social faux pas and of increasing the confidence of language learners, not to eradicate accented speech.
But... "If listeners merely thought that a person might be from a different language background, they understood less of what was said." In Conclusion...
Derwing and Munro review several studies to outline some common trends, especially in exploring the relationship between comprehensibility, intelligibility and accentedness. They stress that increased intelligibility is a valid goal in pronunciation teaching, but also that teachers often do not have the necessary training.
The article ends with suggestions for further research, especially:
-in the classroom
-with languages other than English
-studying phonological development in second language learners Accented speech:
-How relevant is that statement from the article?

-Why does the learner bear all of the responsibility when communication proves difficult?

-Familiarity with accented speech helps in understanding

-Some people are uncomfortable speaking with people from other backgrounds Conversations are 2-sided! Listener Responsibility Accent can be strongly associated with race.
3 Types of accent discrimination:
1. Stereotyping
-often perpetuated through media
-people make assumptions
2. Harassment
3. Employment-related
-how intelligible is the applicant?
-does the job require strong language skills?
In some cases, communication will break down because a speaker of the learner's target language may simply have made up their mind not to understand accented speech. Discrimination Costs Putting accent in its place by Derwing and Munro, 2009, Language
Teaching, 42(4), 476-490.
http://login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/217744813/137D382031A2BD5190A/3?accountid=14474 How do you perceive accent? Figure 2 - Accentedness ratings of utterances that were 100% intelligible (1 = no accent, 9 = extremely
strong accent). Definitions Medical view:
Accent is an disorder or abnormality that needs to be corrected Pedagogical approach:
Most people are easy enough to understand without pronunciation instruction
Basic instruction incorporated into L2 curriculum should be enough
L2 teachers are usually afraid of teaching pronunciation because they have not training in the area
Full transcript