28Technology and Learning Pronunciation

REBECCA HINCKS

Introduction

The use of technology for training pronunciation has been praised for being consistent and tireless from the time of the early phonograph to the present (e.g., Clarke 1918; Engwall et al. 2004; Levis 2007). Language educators have long been called early adaptors of new technologies (Last 1989; Roby 2004). Edison’s phonograph, first commercially marketed in the 1880s, was put to use for language learning purposes as early as 1893 (Léon 1962), and its successor, the gramophone, went on to be used for the provision of native-speaker pronunciation models throughout most of the twentieth century. The introduction of magnetic tape and tape-recording machines in the period following World War II allowed the development of language laboratories (Hocking 1954), where students sitting in isolated booths or carrels could listen to speaker models and record their own pronunciations. Digital technologies were used for language learning starting in the 1960s with the PLATO project, where by the end of the 1970s over 50 000 hours of language training in a dozen languages had been developed (Hart 1995). These early computer-assisted language-learning projects had limited capacity to provide oral and aural training, but when personal computers began to be equipped with audio input and output capacity in the 1990s, learners became able to record and listen to their own versions of modeled pronunciations. Though the first pronunciation ...

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