Focus on Accents: Issues in teaching native vs. artificially derived pronunciation models in EFL


1.       Difficulties in defining the model – General American – negatively defined; RP codified, but – which current changes fall within its scope?


2.       Variation in native/artificial models – which features are indispensable in the syllabus?


3.       Phonological/phonetic? (Systemic/phonetic) issues? Pedagogical aspects of RP -  certain features of RP or of deep/common underlying representation of english are present in all native varieties, comprehension requirements, system preservation; phonetic accuracy targets; can one define a minimally sufficient phonological system? how does it relate to a language type? what about learneability of such a system?


4.       Offering EFL learners a product: What are the teaching aims? Psychological factors: native-like accent means  education, equality, social and cultural membership, not wanting to be distinguished as "foreign speakers" of the language, “An accent, for most people, is something, they would prefer to speak without”, Foreign accent - a failure to learn something?, “learning the wrong thing” (Abercrombie 1953). the age of learners: children and young people vs. adults; limitless ability to learn languages by the young; English taught already at schools


5.       Feasibility of LFC? Do we have an artificial model which provides an alternative to native ones? which elements of non-native varieties should be included and why? Practical/economic matters: sufficient materials, their availability, corpora. The potential costs of providing them? Exposure to the model. But: native models - does a teaching situation really provide sufficient materials, corpora, exposure etc? Also: simultaneous exposure to different models


6.       Methodological considerations: the teacher provides a native-like model, the students not required to imitate it, they can speak LFC (not clearly defined which features need to be acquired/simplified/etc, cf. also point 3 above) - contradiction: why does the teacher need to speak RP/GA/etc model then?


7.       Teaching non-native varieties - potential influences on native speech; analogous situation in varieties of English round the world, e.g. Pidgins (leading to Creole varieties), Pennsylvania Dutch (German), Minnesota, Hawaii (Japanese; Creole varieties), Wales – Welsh substratum in English, also present day London – Asian influences, London in turn has always had a major impact on the pronunciation of English. Learner’s second language becomes a new variety of the language learned, e.g. German L1 -> English L2 -> Minnesota English; Japanese L1 -> English L2 -> Hawaiian English; or language mixing -> pidgin -> Creole 


8.       English seen as an "endangered" language - English has had an impact on a number of languages – now a reversal – is accepting influences – development of "world Englishes" – dilution of English (?) continuous dilution of the LFC model – gradual formation of separate varieties – in fact breakdown not facilitation of communication (?)


9.       History: situations when a semi- or non natural koinè was accepted; ancient Greek koinè, Austrian German, modern Indonesian


10.   Defining a native-speaker of English; a speaker is native in his/her L1 (L1’s), while this L1 may be e.g. Japanese American in Hawai ‘i or Hawai ‘i Creole English; so, in SLA one could talk of attaining native-like competence within a given variety (&not in English in general); also, to be native means to be non-hesitant in the use of a language in any situation; this does not seem to be attainable  by a foreigner unless…



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