The study examined the effect of training on the quality and quantity of English vowels in adult native speakers of Russian. The experimental procedure included a short intensive course in which pronunciation instruction was integrated into general language training and accounted for 50% of the total teaching time. The instruction aimed to target pronunciation through analytic-linguistic and integrative approaches, to make it a meaningful integral component of learning and communication. The course had seven participants. In order to determine and assess the changes in vowel pronunciation and perception, participants undertook several tests, including a language perception test (POSE) and production tasks prior, during and after the training course. The production tasks involved reading a set of citation words, sentences and a short text, all of which were recorded for further analysis. The analysis of the data showed that although some changes occurred in the speech and perception of all participants, the distribution of the changes was not even across the group. While a positive effect of training was recorded in the perception of English among all of the participants, in speech the effect was not as clear and participants’ improvements exhibited high variation. Some participants improved their production of vowel durations while others improved the quality of vowels. The statistics of participants’ attendance and work devoted to out of class training indicated that the best results were achieved by those with high motivation and a good attendance record. Even though pronunciation training was found efficient in raising awareness of certain pronunciation features, which was evident from the perception test results, in order to achieve more profound changes in the participants’ speech, the course should have been longer.
Keywords: English as a foreign language, pronunciation training, quality and quantity of English vowels, adult learners
The master's thesis defended at the University of Tartu has been published in the UT digital archive DSpace.