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Unit information: Teaching and Assessing Fluency and Pronunciation in 2016/17

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Unit name Teaching and Assessing Fluency and Pronunciation
Unit code EDUCM0029
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Isaacs
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit centres on research and practice in the areas of second language fluency and pronunciation. The overarching unit aims are twofold: for students to be able to (1) critique and design empirical studies or pedagogical materials in L2 fluency and pronunciation, and (2) link theory and research findings with their own teaching, learning, and assessment experiences. More specifically, by participating in this unit, it is intended that students will understand • overall historical trends in the instruction of and research on L2 fluency and pronunciation over the past several decades • challenges and debates associated with defining constructs and identifying an appropriate instructional goal and assessment criterion for fluency and pronunciation • issues and challenges in examining communication breakdowns and strategies • that accents are one of the most perceptually salient aspects of speech and a potential source of listener bias • the utility of using genuinely communicative activities that promote repetitive practice to focus on fluency and pronunciation in instructional settings

Additional information and links to other units

The topics to be covered are wide-ranging, including intelligibility and breakdowns in communication, linguistic and nonlinguistic influences on listeners’ judgements of speech, integrating pronunciation and fluency into the communicative classroom, automated assessments of speech, and pronunciation and issues of identity. Embedded in the unit is a focus on research methodology, which will be taught through examining empirical studies that stem from both sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic traditions, and a clear pedagogically-oriented practical component. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the unit is likely to be of interest to students with wide-ranging interests within applied linguistics that extend beyond fluency and pronunciation. The unit links closely with and complements topics covered in other MSc TESOL core and optional units. For example, the following discussions interface with substantive content in existing units: the native speaker norm and Lingua Franca Core (EDUCM5906: GPET), transcription conventions and applications for conversation/discourse analysis (EDUCD0065: ALT, EDUCM0002: IPC), classroom-based research on pedagogical effectiveness (EDUCM5902: PCT, EDUCM5904: SLL), and different paradigmatic orientations in L2 fluency and pronunciation research (EDUCM5903: RMT). In particular, the unit extends topics in the assessment of speaking and listening to complement and extend understanding on more general topics presented in EDUCM5907: LTA (e.g., diagnostic assessment, construct definition and operationalisation, rater effects, automated assessment), representing enhanced exposure to topics in oral/aural assessment specifically.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to: - Understand and apply a range of approaches to researching L2 fluency and pronunciation - Design and critique empirical studies in the area of L2 fluency and pronunciation with respect to theoretical underpinnings and research approaches - Design and critique pedagogical materials and assessment instruments targeting L2 fluency and pronunciation

Teaching Information

Lectures Seminars Tutorials Blackboard

Assessment Information

The summative assessment for the unit is in line with that of the other MSc TESOL optional units and will consist of a 4000 word assignment on one of the topics covered in the unit (or subject to approval by the tutor). There are two options:

Professional task – The design of an instructional sequence targeting the development of second language fluency and/or pronunciation, including a formative or summative assessment component OR the systematic critique of published materials (e.g., student textbooks, teacher training materials, speaking or listening tests)

Research design – A proposal for an empirical study that targets some aspect of fluency and pronunciation/communication. The paper will include a focused literature review, research questions, and a methods section that discusses how the research problem will be addressed, including procedures for data collection and 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.

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.

Wennerstrom, A. (2001). The music of everyday speech: Prosody and discourse analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.