RESPONSE to Bernsby Barbara Seidlhofer

World Englishes

About

Year
2015
DOI
10.1111/weng.12143
Subject
Linguistics and Language / Anthropology

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World Englishes, 2015 0883-2919

REVIEWS

Teaching and researching English accents in native and non-native speakers (Second

Language Learning and Teaching). Ewa Waniek-Klimczak and Linda Shockey (eds.). 2013. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer. ix + 244 pp.

Reviewed by KAZUYA SAITO∗

Whereas much attention has been given to describing the varieties of English spoken not only in the Inner Circle, but also in the Outer and Expanding Circles, an increasing number of researchers have recently begun to study how second (L2) and foreign language learners develop pronunciation aspects of a language under naturalistic and instructed conditions.

This book is one of the first attempts to approach this complex topic from psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic and educational perspectives in an interdisciplinary manner.

One of the strongest variables affecting L2 accents is learners’ first language (L1) systems. In the case of this volume, most of the contributions focus on L1 speakers of

Polish learning English. Highlighting this specific L1/L2 learning context enables us to clearly understand in depth how the unique characteristics of L1 (i.e. Polish) phonetic structures interact to determine the extent to which learners enhance the rate and ultimate attainment of L2 (i.e. English) pronunciation.

Part 1 focuses on hownon-native speakers perceive and produce segmental and suprasegmental aspects of English, and how their speech affects native speakers’ perceived accentedness and intelligibility judgements. In teaching Vietnamese speakers problematic pronunciation features in English (segmentals and syllable structures) via explicit and implicit instruction, Cunnigham (3–14) finds that the teachability and learnability is relatively low for consonant clusters compared to segmental sounds. Szpyra-Lozlowska (15–30) compares whether pronunciation errors at a segmental/suprasegmental level (consonants, vowels, sentence and lexical stress) or a word level (e.g. deformed words typically due to a mismatch between orthographic representations and pronunciation forms) affect accentedness and intelligibility. In ch. 3 (31–48), Wrembel examines what factors interact to affect third language (L3) pronunciation learning, focusing on Polish speakers who have good proficiency in English as L2 and various competence levels in French as L3. The results of foreign accentedness judgements show that not only participants’ L1, but also their L2 phonological systems make a tangible impact on L3 performance. The study of

Gonet et al. (49–58) focuses on to what degree advanced Polish learners of English produce the English velar nasal sound compared to other less problematic features, such as ash, schwa, and full vowels. The results provide some pedagogical implications for teaching these sounds via phonetic training.

Rojczyk (59–72) reports a psycholinguistic experiment where Polish learners of English were tested to perceive lexical stress based on vowel quality and duration when F0 was controlled and held constant. The findings show that learners detect lexical stress without ∗Department of Applied Linguistics & Communication, Birkbeck, University of London, 30 Russell Square, London,

WC1B 5DT, United Kingdom. E-mail: kazuyasaitou@hotmail.com

C© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd 294 Reviews the F0 cue which they use in their L1 phonetic system. In Swiecinski’s study (73–84), electromagnetic articulography was used to first establish a baseline for the articulatory characteristics of Polish and English, and then compares how Polish learners with different proficiency levels pronounce target words in English. The results show that advanced learners tend to handle separate articulatory settings for Polish as L1 and English as L2.

Part 2 mainly concerns the role of pedagogy in L2 pronunciation learning by highlighting a series of empirical investigations to find out what kinds of teaching techniques (e.g. interactional tasks, corrective feedback) can help learners improve their performance.

Pawlak’s study (85–102) compares the effectiveness of two different types of corrective feedback (explicit vs. implicit) on advanced Polish learners’ pronunciation of selected words in English. The results provide suggestions for teaching L2 pronunciation, especially in the context of communicatively oriented classrooms. In ch. 8 (103–112), Hinton examines how aptitude facilitates L2 pronunciation learning, especially in regards to learners’ mimicry ability to accurately repeat input after minimal exposure. The study finds a significant relationship between the levels of learners’ mimicry ability and foreign accentedness, suggesting that mimicry ability needs to be included as a part of aptitude tests for successful L2 pronunciation learning.

Szymanska-Czaplak and Wujec-Kaczmarek evaluate in ch. 9 (113–122) the quality of pedagogic materials used for teaching English pronunciation to Polish students in a secondary-level school setting. The authors find that many materials fail to incorporate pronunciation components relative to grammar and vocabulary aspects of language. In the next chapter (123–138), Henderson conducts a survey on how English pronunciation is taught in the context of 10 European countries. Some of the findings include the fact that most teachers do not necessarily find it difficult to acquire adequate knowledge to teach pronunciation despite their lack of specific teacher training, and that little attention is given towards presenting a wide variety of English dialects to reflect its status as an international language.

Part 3 introduces a list of papers which discuss several controversial topics in phonetics and phonology. In ch. 11 (139–160), Shockey describes how native and non-native speakers look to vowel quality and duration for perceiving and producing short and long vowels in English. As for teaching this complex feature, the author comments that it might be difficult to teach vowel length as a reliable cue. Ciszewski (161–176) empirically examines qualitative and quantitative aspects of stressed vowels in various prosodic contexts. The results identify intervocalic correlations in duration (the durations of stressed and prestressed vowels) and two acoustic correlates of stress (longer duration and higher pitch).