23Applying Theories of Language and Learning to Teaching Pronunciation

GRAEME COUPER

Introduction

This chapter begins by considering the role of theory and its relevance and usefulness in the classroom. This leads to a review of the relevance of several theoretical positions across disciplines:

  1. Applied Linguistics: Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory;
  2. Educational Psychology: social theories of learning;
  3. Phonology and L2 Speech Research; and
  4. Cognitive Linguistics and Phonology: a pronunciation learning and teaching framework.

The second half of the chapter describes how insights from theory can be translated into practice. These approaches and techniques, supported by research that has found them to be of value, are presented as a series of tips for teachers:

  1. Teaching tip one: understand all is not as it seems;
  2. Teaching tip two: generate dialogue;
  3. Teaching tip three: establish category boundaries through critical listening;
  4. Teaching tip four: meaningfully integrate pronunciation into further practice activities;
  5. Teaching tip five: provide the right kind of corrective feedback.

What can theories tell us and which ones should we listen to?

Jordan (2004) suggests that attempting to explain phenomena is fundamental to theory building. However, in SLA theory there is still a lack of agreement as to what the phenomenon of language actually is. At one end of the spectrum Gregg (2001), for example, puts forward the traditional SLA view that it is a matter of linguistic competence ...

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