Learners’ views of social issues in pronunciation learning

  • John Levis Iowa State University
Keywords: pronunciation, accent, social factors, identity

Abstract

Success in L2 pronunciation learning is affected by both individual differences and social influences on learning. While individual differences have been extensively researched, social influences have not. This study examines the beliefs and attitudes of advanced learners of English in regard to their pronunciation abilities and improvement. Twelve graduate students took part in four weeks of individualized pronunciation tutoring followed by interviews asking about their pronunciation, use of English, and their pronunciation in social contexts. The interviews revealed four images of their pronunciation learning. The first was that their spoken language skills left them feeling pulled in conflicting directions; the second was that they believed that accents could be ‘caught’ (like a cold) from the models around them (whether those models were seen as good or bad); the third concerned the students’ views of accent and identity, which by and large were not seen as connected; and the fourth suggested that they saw themselves as separate from regular social contact in the L2. Each of these images involved contradictory beliefs about the nature of pronunciation improvement and its relationship to social interaction. These beliefs made improvement in pronunciation difficult. It is only by helping learners address these contradictory beliefs that greater pronunciation improvement will be possible.

Author Biography

John Levis, Iowa State University
Professor Applied Linguistics
Published
2015-03-06
How to Cite
Levis, J. (2015). Learners’ views of social issues in pronunciation learning. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 9(1), A42-A55. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/367