Critical success factors in learning English pronunciation: a look through the lens of the learner

Dao, Duc Nguyen Anh (2021) Critical success factors in learning English pronunciation: a look through the lens of the learner. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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It is beyond dispute that developing good pronunciation is crucial to successful second language learning (Dickerson, 2019; Sugimoto & Uchida, 2018; Yates, 2017). However, until recently, compared with other fields of SLA, not much has been understood about how L2 pronunciation can be taught and learned effectively, and more importantly, learners’ perspectives on L2 pronunciation related issues still have considerably low visibility in research.

This research project looks into how English pronunciation is being learned in Vietnam, examining factors that may affect success in learning, ranging from motivation, attitudes, identity, learning skills and strategies to methodology, language models, learning goals, instructional content, and teaching techniques and activities. More importantly, the research investigates successful approaches to L2 pronunciation learning. All of these issues are explored through the eyes of the learner.

A mixed-method research design was employed, integrating questionnaire surveys and in-depth interviews. In the quantitative phase of the study, 156 first-year English major students at a university in Vietnam were surveyed for their perspectives on pronunciation learning problems and the role of instruction. Then, in the qualitative phase, from the same group of students, four successful learners of pronunciation and four who struggled to learn were carefully selected, using both human raters and a computer-aided rating scheme, to participate in the semi-structured interviews. They were encouraged to not only share their opinions on certain key findings from the survey but also reveal their approaches to learning English pronunciation.

Key findings reveal that the low level of intrinsic motivation, the weak intent to take actions, poor critical listening skills, the lack of autonomy in assessing learning progress, the infrequent use of learning strategies, and the difficult nature of suprasegmental features are potential problems that Vietnamese learners encounter in learning English pronunciation. Besides, the current teaching approaches, choice of nativeness as a learning goal, teaching focus, use of techniques and activities, and the learners’ negative reaction towards the non-native teacher’s pronunciation may hinder success in learning. Finally, the differences between the strong and weak learners’ skills and qualities, perception of the teacher’s influence, types of learning activity, and inspiration may contribute to the dissimilar levels of achievement in pronunciation learning.

This research is intended to contribute to a better understanding of how successful learning can happen in the field of L2 pronunciation. It also attempts to disclose to L2 pronunciation researchers and teachers how learners perceive the available instruction and which strategies and techniques they prefer to use for learning. As a consequence, teachers can be more assured of providing beneficial while learners can be better informed of useful measures they may adopt for their independent study as well as for achieving better pronunciation.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: White, Goodith
Doss, Cynthia
Keywords: second language pronunciation learning and teaching, learner perspective, successful learners
Subjects: P Language and literature > PE English
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Education
Item ID: 64284
Depositing User: Anh Duc, Dao Nguyen Anh Duc
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2021 04:40
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2021 04:40

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