Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

John Murphy

Second Advisor

Diane Belcher

Third Advisor

Stephanie Lindemann

Fourth Advisor

Lucy Pickering

Abstract

Over the past few decades, increasing research has examined the cognitions (knowledge and beliefs) of second language (L2) teachers. Such efforts have provided insight into what constitutes teachers' beliefs and knowledge about teaching, how these cognitions have developed and how they are reflected in classroom practice (see Borg, 2006). Although numerous studies have been conducted into the curricular areas of L2 grammar and, to a lesser extent, L2 literacy, far fewer have examined L2 teachers' cognitions concerning L2 pronunciation instruction. The purpose of the present study, therefore, was to explore some of the dynamic relationships that exist between L2 teachers’ cognitions and actual pedagogical practices, how these cognitions

have developed over time, and what relationships exist between both students’ and teachers’ perceptions. In the study, the cognitions and practices - as they relate to the teaching of L2 pronunciation - of five experienced teachers in an Intensive English program were investigated. The teachers participated in three types of data collection procedures over one semester - three semi-structured interviews, five classroom observations, and two stimulated recall interviews. Also, their students completed questionnaires. Findings revealed that, in terms of the development of teachers' cognitions, a graduate course dedicated to pronunciation pedagogy had the greatest impact of the teachers’ cognitions. In addition, all teachers experienced some degree of insecurity about teaching pronunciation. This was especially true for teachers who had never taken a course in pronunciation pedagogy. Yet even those teacher with specific training in pronunciation pedagogy lacked confidence in certain areas, especially in how to diagnose and address problems with pronunciation. Furthermore, some of the teachers were hesitant to assess students' pronunciation, fearing that negative feedback might be damaging to the learners' identities. However, through viewing the results of the student questionnaires, the participant-teachers were surprised to learn that students favored receiving explicit feedback in class in front of their peers over other types of feedback. One final major finding was that the teachers predominantly employed controlled techniques when teaching pronunciation and that, of all the techniques used, guided techniques were used less frequently.

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