Ron Thomson

Graduate Program Director
Professor, Applied Linguistics

PhD (University of Alberta)

Office: MC D450H
905-688-5550 x5842
ron.thomson@brocku.ca

Dr. Thomson completed his PhD in Linguistics at the University of Alberta in 2007. He also holds a BA in Political Science (University of Calgary, 1995) and an MEd in TESL (University of Alberta, 2001). Professor Thomson’s substantial cross-cultural experience significantly informs his worldview, and his sense of humour. After spending his formative years among the Siksiká (Southern Alberta), and Muhajirs and Punjabis (Pakistan), he went on to study in India, to volunteer in the Dominican Republic, and to teach English in Korea, Oman, and Canada.

Dr. Thomson’s research focuses on the development of L2 pronunciation and fluency. He is currently examining how L2 learners process L2 sounds and the role the learners’ L1 plays. Dr. Thomson is also interested in how computer-mediated instruction may facilitate easier and more rapid development of L2 speech perception and production.

Books

  • Kang, O., Thomson, R. I., & Murphy, J. M. (Eds.). (2018). The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary English Pronunciation. London: Routledge.

Web and Mobile Applications:

  • Thomson, R. I. (2018). English Accent Coach [Computer program]. Version 2.3. Link

This cloud-based pronunciation application (www.englishaccentcoach.com) offers a high variability phonetic training (HVPT) game for English learners.  It is a one-of-a-kind research-based tool for improving L2 English learners’ ability to perceive and produce English sounds. It is being used by thousands of learners around the world.

  • Thomson, R. I. (2011). EAC Vowels 1 (Version 1.11). [Mobile application software]. Link

An iOS (iPhone) app providing mobile High Variability Phonetic Training for English vowels.

  • Thomson, R. I. (2012). EAC Echo. (Version 1). [Mobile application software]. Link

An iOS (iPhone) app providing mobile English vowel pronunciation training using a Simon-like memory game interface.

Refereed Articles:

  • Kang, O., Thomson, R. I., & Moran, M. (2019, Early view). Which Features of Accent affect Understanding?  Exploring the Intelligibility Threshold of Diverse Accent Varieties. Applied Linguistics Link
  • Kang, O., Thomson, R. I., & Moran, M. (2019, Early view). The effects of international accents and shared first language on listening comprehension tests. TESOL Quarterly Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2018). High Variability [Pronunciation] Training (HVPT): A proven technique about which every language teacher and learner ought to know. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 4(2), 207-230. Link
  • O’Brien, M. G., Derwing, T. M., Cucchiarini, C. Hardison, D., Mixdorff, H., Thomson, R. I., Strik, H., Levis, J. M., Munro, M. J., Foote, J. A., & Muller Levis, G. (2018). Directions for the future of technology in pronunciation research and teaching.  Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 4(2), 182-206. Link
  • Kang, O., Thomson, R.I., & Moran, M. (2018). Empirical approaches to measuring intelligibility of Different Varieties of English in Predicting Listener Comprehension of tests. Language Learning, 68(1), 115-146. DOI: 10.1111/lang.12270 Link
  • McAndrews, M. & Thomson, R.I. (2017). Establishing an empirical basis for priorities in pronunciation teaching. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 3(2), 267-288. Link
  • Galante, A., & Thomson, R. I. (2017). The effectiveness of drama as an instructional approach for the development of L2 fluency, comprehensibility, and accentedness. TESOL Quarterly, 51,(1), 115-142. DOI: 10.1002/tesq.290 Link
  • Munro, M. J., Derwing, T. M., & Thomson, R. I. (2015). Setting segmental priorities for English learners: Evidence from a longitudinal study. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(1), 39-60. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. & Derwing, T. M. (2015). The Effectiveness of L2 Pronunciation Instruction: A Narrative Review. Applied Linguistics, 36(3): 326-344. Link
  • Isaacs, T. & Thomson, R. I. (2013). Rater experience, rating scale length, and judgments of L2: Revisiting research conventions. Language Assessment Quarterly, 10, (2), 135-159.
  • Thomson, R. I. (2012). Improving L2 listeners’ perception of English vowels: A computer-mediated approach. Language Learning, 62, 1231-1258. Link
  • Derwing, T. M., Thomson, R. I., Foote, J. A., & Munro, M. J. (2012). A Longitudinal study of listening perception in adult learners of English: Implications for teachers. Canadian Modern Language Review, 68, 247-266. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2012). Demystifying pronunciation research to inform practice. In McGarrell, H.M. & Courchêne, R. (Eds.) Special Research Symposium Issue of CONTACT, 38, (2), 63-75. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2011). Computer Assisted Pronunciation Training: Targeting second language vowel perception improves pronunciation. CALICO Journal, 28, 744-765.
  • Rossiter, M. J., Derwing, T. M., Manimtim, L., & Thomson, R. I. (2010). Fluency: The missing component in the “communicative” classroom.  Canadian Modern Language Review, 66, 583-606.Link
  • Thomson, R. I., Nearey, T. M., & Derwing, T. M. (2009). A modified statistical pattern recognition approach to measuring the crosslinguistic similarity of Mandarin and English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 126, 1447-1460
  • Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., Thomson, R. I., & Rossiter, M. J. (2009). The relationship between L1 fluency and L2 fluency development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 31, 533-557. Link
  • Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J. & Thomson, R. I. (2008). A longitudinal study of ESL learners’ fluency and comprehensibility development. Applied Linguistics, 29, 359-380. Link
  • Derwing, T. M., Thomson, R. I., & Munro, M. J. (2006).  English pronunciation and fluency development in Mandarin and Slavic speakers.  System, 34, 183-193. Link
  • Derwing, T. M., & Thomson, R. I.  (2005). Citizenship concepts in LINC classrooms.  TESL Canada Journal, 23, (1), 44-62. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2004). Buyer beware: Professional status and TESL certificates in Canada. TESL Canada Journal, Special Issue, 4, 40-57. Link
  • Derwing, T. M., Rossiter, M. J., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I. (2004). L2 fluency: Judgments on different tasks. Language Learning 54, 655-679. Link
  • Thomson, R. I., & Derwing, T. M. (2004). Presenting Canadian values in LINC: The role of textbooks and teachers.  TESL Canada Journal, 21, (2) 17-33. Link

Book Chapters: 

  • Thomson, R. I. (2018). Measurement of accentedness, intelligibility and comprehensibility. In Kang, O., & Ginther, A. (Eds.). Assessment in Second Language Pronunciation. (pp. 11-29). Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2015). Fluency. In Reed, M. & Levis, J. (Eds.). The Handbook of English Pronunciation. (pp. 209-226). Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. Link      
  • Derwing, T. M., Fraser, F., Kang, O., & Thomson, R. I. (2014). L2 accent and ethics: Issues that merit attention. In A. Mahboob and L. Barratt (Eds.), English in a Multilingual Context. (63-80). New York: Springer. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2014). Myth 6: Accent reduction and pronunciation instruction are the same thing. In L. Grant (Ed.). Pronunciation myths: Applying second language research to classroom teaching. (160-187). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2012). Phonology: Quantitative Methods. In C. A. Chapelle. (ed). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0912
  • Thomson, R. I. (2012). Accent Reduction. In C. A. Chapelle. (ed). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0004
  • Thomson, R. I. (2012). Incorporating pronunciation into a CLB-based program. Revised CLBs Toolkit (pp. 57-70)Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. Link

Conference Proceedings: 

  • Iino, A., & Thomson, R. I. (2018). Effects of web-based HVPT on EFL learners’ recognition and production of L2 sounds. In P. Taalas, J. Jalkanen, L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds), Future-proof CALL:language learning as exploration and encounters – short papers from EUROCALL 2018 (pp. 106-111). Research-publishing.net. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2016). Does training to perceive L2 English vowels in one phonetic context transfer to other phonetic contexts?. Canadian Acoustics, 44, (3) 198-199. Proceedings of the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustics Association.  Link
  • Thomson, R. I., & Derwing, T. M. (2016). Is phonemic training using nonsense or real words more effective? In J. Levis, H. Le., I. Lucic, E. Simpson, & S. Vo (Eds.). Proceedings of the 7th Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference. Oct. 2015. (pp. 88-97). Ames, IA: Iowa State University. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2013). ESL teachers’ beliefs and practices in pronunciation teaching: Confidently right or confidently wrong? In J. Levis & K. LeVelle (Eds.). Proceedings of the 4th Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference. Aug. 2012. (pp. 224-233). Ames, IA: Iowa State University. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2012) English Accent Coach: Not quite a fairy godmother for pronunciation instruction, but a step in the right direction. CONTACT, 38, (1), 18-24. Link
  • Thomson, R. I., & Campagna, P. (2010). The effect of task type on native speaker judgments of L2 accented speech. Canadian Acoustics, 38, (3), 122-123. Proceedings of the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustics Association. Link
  • Thomson, R. I., & Isaacs, T. (2009). Within-category variation in L2 English vowel learning.  Canadian Acoustics, 37, (3), 138-139. Proceedings of the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustics Association. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2008). L2 English vowel learning by Mandarin speakers: Does perception precede production? Canadian Acoustics, 36, (3), 134-135. Proceedings of the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustics Association. Link
  • Munro, M. J., Derwing, T. M., & Thomson, R. I. (2003). A longitudinal examination of English vowel learning by Mandarin speakers.  Canadian Acoustics, 31, (3), 32-33.  Proceedings of the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustics Association.  Edmonton, AB. Link
  • Thomson, R. I. (2003). L2 vowel perception: Perceptual assimilation to what?  Canadian Acoustics, 31, (3), 36-37.  Proceedings of the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustics Association.  Edmonton, AB. Link

Dr. Thomson currently teaches courses in phonetics, phonology and TESL.

  • LING 2P50 Introduction to Phonetics
  • LING 2P53 Introduction to Phonology
  • LING 3P51 Applied Phonetics
  • LING 4P25 Research Practicum
  • LING 4F01 Honours Thesis
  • LING 5P03 Oral/Aural Skills in TESL

Dr. Thomson is a former Elected Director (2005-2017) and President (2014-2015) of the TESL Canada board, and served as an appointed advisor to the TESL Canada Executive Committee until 2017. www.tesl.ca

He is also an editorial board member for the Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, Canadian Modern Language Review, the TESL Canada Journal, and HOW Journal, and reviews for many other relevant journals and professional conferences in the field.