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Academic Paper

Title: Addressing Individual Learner Needs in the Pronunciation Classroom: The role of identity and motivation
Author: Deirdre Murphy
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Abstract: The spread of English worldwide and the rise of alternative phonological models such as that of ELF as proposed by Jenkins (e.g. 2000; 2002) have in recent years led to an increasing interest in the role of learner identity and how it is reflected in non-native English accents. At the same time, L2 motivation research has recently witnessed a heightened interest in the role played by individual learner identity in the development of L2 motivation (e.g. Dörnyei 2005; Ushioda 2009). In this paper I outline the applicability of these developments to EFL pronunciation research, and hypothesize that the language learner's personal motivation is a significant factor in determining, striving towards and achieving personal pronunciation goals. /L//L/I present the results of a pilot study carried out to establish the language backgrounds, pronunciation goals and attitudes of a sample of 30 adult EFL learners attending a school of English in Dublin. While the results of this pilot project are only preliminary owing to the relatively low number of respondents, they indicate the potentially significant motivational role played by these learners' personal goals in their pronunciation aims. When asked to choose their own ideal level of English language pronunciation proficiency, a clear majority (N=18) of the respondents expressed a personal preference for the achievement of a native-like accent. These responses varied greatly, however, when the respondents were asked to choose a corresponding ideal level of pronunciation for English language learners in general; only half (N=9) of those who had chosen to aim for a native-like accent themselves selected the same target for language learners in general. The overall results suggest that this group of learners may have differentiated between the personal goals they set for their own pronunciation learning, and those they believed appropriate for others. /L//L/I attribute the disparity indicated by these results to the powerful motivating influence of learners' individual language learning goals, and the significance that the potential target accents have for their personal identities. I propose that the evidence suggests that an appropriate pronunciation pedagogy must take into account such individual learner differences in motivation, and foster reflection on questions of identity and their relation to accent and pronunciation, in order to help learners to achieve their pronunciation goals.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: First presented at Accents 2008, Łódź, Poland
Publication Info: In E. Waniek-Klimczak (Ed.), Issues in Accents of English: Variability and Norm 2 (pp. 185-200). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

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