Research on Interlanguage Phonology

Voice and Mirroring in L2 Pronunciation Instruction - Darren LaScotte

Darren LaScotte [+-]
University of Minnesota
Darren LaScotte holds an MA in TESOL from the University of Minnesota and is currently completing a PhD degree in Second Language Education at the same university, where he is an ESL Teaching Specialist in the Minnesota English Language Program and an Affiliate Faculty member in French & Italian and Curriculum and Instruction. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member in Second Language Teaching and Learning at Hamline University. LaScotte is the author (with B Peters) of Intercultural Skills in Action: An International Student’s Guide to College and University Life in the United States, in press with the University of Michigan Press, and is editor (with C Mathieu and S David) of New Perspectives on Material Mediation in Language Learner Pedagogy, forthcoming with Springer.
Colleen Meyers [+-]
University of Minnesota
Colleen Meyers holds an MA in TESOL from the University of Minnesota, where she was formerly a teacher educator. She has also served as an Adjunct Faculty member in the Second Language Teaching and Learning Program at Hamline University. She is a past recipient of the MinneTESOL Harold B. Allen award and a Fulbright Senior Specialist award to the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. She is a regular presenter at international TESOL (Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages) conferences, where she has been invited to lead the Teaching Intonation: What teachers need to know segment of the Pre-Conference Institute on Teaching Pronunciation since 2016. Meyers has co-authored (with G Gorsuch, L Pickering, and D Griffee) English Communication for International Teaching Assistants (2nd edition, Waveland Press); (with S Holt) Success with Presentations and Pronunciation for Success (Aspen Productions); and (with J Smith and A Burkhalter) Communicate: Classroom Communication Strategies for International TAs (Prentice Hall Regents). In addition, Colleen wrote the segment on “Mirroring” for the “Pronunciation for Teachers” website ( 
Elaine Tarone [+-]
University of Minnesota
Elaine Tarone holds a PhD in Speech Science from the University of Washington and is the former Director of the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Minnesota. She has served as President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and as Editor of the journal,Applied Linguistics, and she has received numerous awards for service, including the MinnTESOL Harold B. Allen award, a TESOL 50th anniversary award for significant contributions to the TESOL profession, and a Distinguished Scholarship and Service award from the American Association for Applied Linguistics. Tarone is the author of Interlanguage Variation, Edward Arnold, and has coauthored a number of books, including (with ZH Han) Interlanguage: 40 Years Later (John Benjamins); (with M Bigelow and K Hansen) Literacy and Second Language Oracy (Oxford University Press); (with B Swierzbin) Exploring Learner Language (Oxford University Press); and (with G Yule) Focus on the Language Learner: Approaches to Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Second Language Learners (Oxford University Press).


There are two broad approaches to the research and teaching of second language (L2) pronunciation, so-called ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’, which roughly align with structural and communicative approaches to language research and teaching. A bottom-up approach, explicitly focusing on de-contextualised linguistic forms, is structuralist and describes speech as a series of rules that students from any and all language backgrounds are encouraged to explicitly compare—perhaps first to rules in their own language(s)/dialect(s)—and internalize. Pronunciation textbooks that take this approach (cf. Gilbert, 2012; Grant, 2017) begin with an analysis of the smallest linguistics units, i.e. phonemes, and build to larger linguistic units such as discursive speech patterns. With the exception of including broad and oftentimes ill-defined categories of situational formality or informality, these materials often neglect to include essential social factors of L2 pronunciation such as context, interlocutor, empathy, and nonverbal elements on the meaningful use of L2 forms. Whereas these textbooks are designed to be universal or “one-size-fits-all,” their exclusion of such social factors may thereby not address or support the specific pronunciation needs and academic and/or professional goals of individual students. In consideration of research published since 1979 showing the powerful impact of sociolinguistic context on L2 pronunciation, as well as recent second-language acquisition theoretical frameworks emphasising the role of social and contextual factors in shaping interlanguage (IL) systems (e.g., Douglas Fir Group, 2016), this volume argues that a top-down approach that begins with social context is preferred in both research and teaching of L2 pronunciation. The authors present both previously published and new unpublished findings in interlanguage phonology and variationist sociolinguistic approaches to SLA, including Bakhtinian sociocultural theory, to show how L2 learners who internalize the “voices” (complexes of linguistic and non- linguistic features that embody particular speakers’ emotion, social stance, and group identification) of proficient speakers of the L2 can dramatically (and unconsciously) shift their pronunciation patterns as they enact these voices for their own purposes in unplanned speech. Such studies support the view that the construct of voice and the influence of social contextual factors in SLA are critical in shaping interlanguage systems and raise a number of important pedagogical implications for addressing learning outcomes in L2 pronunciation and intelligibility. The authors then describe in detail top-down approaches to teaching pronunciation, including those engaging language play, role play, and drama techniques. The book ends with a discussion of the Mirroring Project to teaching pronunciation, including the instructional activities that have been used in a variety of teaching and learning settings in the U.S., as an effective top-down pedagogical approach for L2 pronunciation instruction. It documents the way this approach can help L2 Learners modify their L2 pronunciation patterns and improve their intelligibility as they internalize and channel the voices of speakers they have selected as models.

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LaScotte, Darren; Meyers, Colleen; Tarone, Elaine. Research on Interlanguage Phonology. Voice and Mirroring in L2 Pronunciation Instruction. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2023. ISBN 9781000000000. Date accessed: 19 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.42467. Jan 2023

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