Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number2  June 2020                                              Pp. 420-423

 

Book Review

Beyond “Listen and Repeat” Investigating English Pronunciation Instruction at the Upper Secondary School Level in Slovakia

 

Author:  Rastislav Metruk
Title of book: Beyond “Listen and Repeat” Investigating English Pronunciation Instruction at the Upper Secondary School Level in Slovakia
Year of publication: 2020
Place of publication: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Publisher: Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic
Pages: 119
Reviewer: Yevgeniya Karpenko

English pronunciation instruction may be difficult for some reasons. Teachers are often left without clear guidelines and sometimes are faced with contradictory practices for pronunciation instruction. As a result teachers may often be not very comfortable in teaching pronunciation in their classes. The review of literature shows that if teachers want to teach pronunciation accurately and effectively they should be trained in pronunciation instruction (Gilakjani, Sabouri 2016). Texts often used to prepare teachers to teach pronunciation typically include discussions of the basics: segmental features (vowel sounds, consonant sounds, and their transcription) and suprasegmental features (connected speech, word stress, sentence stress, tonic stress, rhythm, and intonation) ((Avery & Ehrich, 1992; Kenworthy, 1987; Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin, 2010). Topics that further develop the prospective teacher of pronunciation include discussions of speech, common learner errors, and pedagogical techniques (such as chants, drills, and drama) at different educational levels and in the national context of schooling (Metruk, 2020; Pokrivčáková, 2015).

Namely, the monograph by Metruk R. “Beyond “Listen and Repeat” Investigating English Pronunciation Instruction at the Upper Secondary School Level in Slovakia” (Metruk, 2020) provides an overview of pronunciation teaching and learning practices in secondary schools in Slovakia, providing insights into secondary school learners’ needs, motivation and expectations regarding the importance of learning English pronunciation. The book presents a summary of the research on English pronunciation acquisition, teaching techniques and factors affecting the learning process as well as the results and conclusions of a longitudinal study conducted in a Slovak secondary school.

In the introduction, the author elaborates the role of teachers in teaching English pronunciation and formulates the research objectives. The actual book consists of eight chapters: (1) teaching pronunciation, (2) factors that affect pronunciation, (3) research on English pronunciation carried out in the Slovak context, (4) methodology of research, (5,6,7) the research methods of content analysis, questionnaire, and interview, (8) conclusions and recommendations. The book contains a list of references, and concludes with three appendices. They include examples of erroneous pronunciation at a segmental level, questionnaire and interview.

Chapters 1 and 2 clarify some concepts fundamental to the ensuing discussion: the phonological competence, intelligibility, pronunciation models, motivation, exposure to the target language, fluency vs accuracy, etc. Furthermore, the segmental versus suprasegmental debate is mentioned as well as technological affordances in relation to pronunciation instruction. It is concluded that the accurate pronunciation and being fluent during the production of both segmental and suprasegmental categories are equally important in teaching and learning English pronunciation. (Metruk, 2020, P.20). Among factors that affect pronunciation special emphasis is placed on the attitudinal and motivational aspects of learning pronunciation, and on the fact that each and every learner can learn and improve in their own way. So teachers ought to appreciate the strengths and possibilities of every learner and encourage them (Metruk, 2020, P.39). The author also briefly offers advice on which methods and techniques to use in order to make the process of English pronunciation acquisition more effective (jazz chants, drama, drills, songs, tongue twisters, visual aids, etc).

Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 describe the research on English pronunciation carried out in the Slovak context, its methodology, methods of content analysis and results, conclusions and recommendations. To collect the data, a survey was conducted among in-service teachers at higher secondary schools in Slovakia. The questions focused on the respondents’ beliefs about pronunciation instruction, teachers’ competences regarding pronunciation and pronunciation teaching. The results depict that both students (prospective English language teachers) and in-service teachers of English at secondary schools consider pronunciation a crucial component of learning English and a predictor of successful communication. Moreover, it shows that importance of teaching both segmentals and suprasegmentals is highly valued by teachers and students, and that systematic and regular pronunciation instruction has the potential to improve learners’ communicative competence and their confidence as speakers of English.

This book reviews some of the important issues of English pronunciation instruction, emphasizes the immense significance of pronunciation instruction as this area still appears to be rather neglected in the context of English language teaching in Slovakia (Metruk, 2017, Metruk, 2018). The book contains terminology related to the area of teaching and learning pronunciation, as well some useful activities to use with students for in-service training sessions.  I would recommend it to pre-service and in-service teachers who are interested in a), the matter of teaching and learning pronunciation at the upper-secondary school level in Slovakia, b) the role motivation and attitude play in the study of pronunciation, and c) the incorporation of drills, chants and drama, aimed at the phonological competence formation, into English teaching and learning.

Reviewer:
Yevgeniya Karpenko
, PhD. Associate professor at Department of the English Language and Primary ELT Methodology (Zhytomyr Ivan Franko State University, Zhytomyr, Ukraine). She lectures on general linguistics, ELT methodology (primary level included). She completed research stays at the university of Zilina, Slovakia (2018) and the university of Nyiregyhaza, Hungary (2019).  She is publishing and dealing with the methodological issue of professional training of prospective foreign language teachers, FLT methodology in Europe, etc.

References

Avery, P., & Ehrlich, S. (1992). ‘Teaching American English Pronunciation’. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D., & Goodwin, J. (2010). ‘Teaching pronunciation in the teaching English as a second or foreign language’. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gilakjani, A. P., & Sabouri, N. B. (2016). Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review. English Language Teaching, 9, 123-133. Mode of access: https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v9n6p123

Metruk, R. (2017). Pronunciation of English Dental Fricatives by Slovak University EFL Students. *International Journal of English Linguistics, 7*(3),11–16. Mode of access: https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v7n3p11
Metruk, R. (2018). “West” or “Vest”? Pronunciation of English Consonants
[w] and [v] in the Utterances of Slovak EFL Speakers. *Journal of Language and Education, 4**(*2), 24-29. Mode of access: https://doi.org/10.17323/2411-7390-2018-4-2-24-29

Metruk, R. (2020). Beyond “Listen and Repeat” Investigating English Pronunciation  Instruction at the Upper Secondary School Level in SlovakiaPalacký University Olomouc, 119pp.

Pokrivčáková, S. (2015). CALL and Teaching Pronunciation. In S. Pokrivčáková et al. (Eds.) CALL and Foreign Language Education: Etextbook for Foreign Language Teachers, pp. 29-37. Nitra, Slovakia: Constantine the Philosopher University.

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