A Neglected Aspect of the Standards: Preparing Foreign Language Spanish Teachers to Teach Pronunciation

By Morin, Regina | Foreign Language Annals, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

A Neglected Aspect of the Standards: Preparing Foreign Language Spanish Teachers to Teach Pronunciation


Morin, Regina, Foreign Language Annals


Abstract:

This article discusses reasons for explicit pronunciation instruction, despite the continued neglect of this area in the communicative classroom. ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers (2002) and Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (National Standards, 1999) dictate that teachers have an understanding of target language sound/spelling relationships, segmentais, suprasegmentals, and dialectal variation. Suggestions are offered for building a knowledge base, including issues involved in pronunciation instruction, content areas of Spanish phonetics, and types of pedagogical materials that can be designed and implemented in the communicative foreign language Spanish classroom. Pedagogical materials created by students enrolled in a graduate-level Applied Spanish Phonetics course show that it is possible to engage in pronunciation instruction in the communicative foreign language Spanish classroom and incorporate basic pronunciation instruction into an existing curriculum at all levels.

Key words: ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards, National Standards, phonetics, phonology, pronunciation instruction, teacher preparation

Language: Spanish

(ProQuest-CSA LLC: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Much research points to the continued neglect of Spanish pronunciation instruction in the college-level communicative foreign language classroom. This neglect has direct implications for teacher preparation, especially in light of the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers (2002), which call for foreign language teachers who understand the rules of the sound system of the target language, can describe how target language sounds are articulated, are able to describe target language phonological features, and can diagnose their own target language pronunciation problems and those of their students. To a certain degree, the program standards could be addressed at the university departmental level by requiring all people seeking certification in a foreign language to pass an appropriate course in phonetics and phonology, but success in implementing such an approach would reach only future generations of foreign language teachers. It would not address the problem of lack of training among practicing foreign language teachers. As proposed by Morley (1994) for English as a second language (ESL), this problem might be addressed through graduate-level courses in applied linguistics, inservice training sessions, and self-instruction.

All three types of instruction should result in: (1) familiarity with relevant research on the many issues involved in the teaching and assessment of pronunciation; (2) an understanding of content areas such as target language sound/spelling relationships, segmentai and suprasegmental features, and dialectal variation; (3) an understanding of the aspects of these content areas that are relevant at the elementary through secondary level and can be incorporated into the curriculum; and (4) an understanding of how to develop pedagogical materials and implement phonetics instruction in the communicative foreign language classroom. The intent of this article is to provide preliminary suggestions for meeting these objectives.

Review of the Literature

Jenkins explores the influence on pedagogy of the latest developments in pronunciation teaching research and technology. Her perhaps optimistic conclusion that "pronunciation has come of age, and is unlikely to remain on the margins of language teaching in the 21st century as it did for much of the final part of the twentieth" (2004, p. 120) is based on a review of recent pronunciation teaching research that includes more sophisticated approaches to interlanguage phonology, universal development, and suprasegmental features, combined with new uses for technology in pronunciation teaching. However, while there have been some encouraging developments, more so in ESL than in foreign language teaching, Elliott's assessment that "the acquisition of pronunciation has fallen to the wayside and has suffered from serious neglect in the communicative classroom" (1997, p. …

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