Featured speakers

Sonya Bird (University of Victoria)

Rae Anne Claxton (University of Alberta)

Pronunciation in the context of Hul’q’umi’num’ language revitalization

The vast majority of research on L2 pronunciation has focused on English (Lee, Jang, & Plonsky, 2015). Within this body of literature, the general consensus is that learners should be encouraged to aim for intelligibility and comprehensibility, rather than for a native-like accent (Levis 2005; Derwing & Munro 2009). This approach makes good sense for learners of English (and other dominant languages). In our experience though, it does not always resonate with learners of Indigenous languages, who take very seriously their responsibility to pronounce their language in a way that honours their Elders’ speech. In this talk, we start with an introduction to the particularities of pronunciation work in the context of Indigenous language revitalization. We then discuss our work in the Hul’q’umi’num’ (Coast Salish) context specifically, focusing on what we have discovered so far about the specific pronunciation challenges faced by learners, and what kinds of methods and tools are most useful for overcoming these challenges.

Mary Grantham O’Brien (University of Calgary)

Pronunciation training in the absence of native listeners

In their review of research on the effectiveness of second language (L2) pronunciation training, Thomson and Derwing (2015) report that most studies investigate L2 English pronunciation with participants learning English in contexts where they can actively use it outside the classroom. In these settings, native English listeners demonstrate high levels of understanding of the speech (e.g., Isaacs & Trofimovich, 2012). While the results of such studies provide useful insights for pronunciation training, a question arises regarding the generalizability of such results to foreign language settings, where most of the interaction takes place in a classroom with fellow L2 learners. The results of O’Brien (2014) show that L2 learners may understand relatively little of their fellow learners’ speech. This presentation will focus on foreign language learners’ pronunciation goals and recommendations for training in situations that may not include native speaking interlocutors.