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Online-based intelligibility instruction for second language (L2) learners

Dalman, Mohammadreza (2022) Online-based intelligibility instruction for second language (L2) learners. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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As speaking skills in English have become increasingly important in different academic and professional venues as a result of globalization, the issues of intelligibility and comprehensibility which go to the very core of global communication have come to the fore (Jenkins, 2000). In so doing, L2 pronunciation instruction should be based on those features which render L2 speech more comfortably intelligible. Previous research has revealed that both segmental and suprasegmental features are conducive to non-native speakers’ production of L2 speech (Kang et al., 2018; Saito et al., 2015). However, little research has examined the effects of intelligibility instruction on L2 learners’ pronunciation gains, especially through an online-based approach. Accordingly, this study examined whether online-based instruction of intelligibility features (i.e., high functional load consonants/ vowels, lexical stress, thought grouping, prominence, and intonation) conjointly resulted in gains in L2 learners’ intelligibility and comprehensibility as well as segmentals and suprasegmental accuracy. Sixty L2 learners of English were recruited and randomly assigned to two instructional conditions: (1) an intelligibility group (n = 30) which received three weeks of online-based instruction on intelligibility features through Intelligibility tutor and (2) a comparison group (n = 30) which received parallel online-based instruction on English segmentals advocated in traditional, accuracy-oriented approaches to pronunciation instruction through Segmental Tutor. Both Tutors were hosted on Moodle, which is an open-source learning management system. Spontaneous speech samples collected in the pre-and posttest were transcribed and rated for intelligibility and comprehensibility by ten trained raters. The speech samples were also analyzed for segmental and suprasegmental features. An online survey was also administered to the L2 learners in both instructional conditions to determine how they evaluated the online pronunciation course. Results of a series of mixed-effects models indicated that the intelligibility group significantly improved both intelligibility and comprehensibility scores from the pre-to posttest. Whereas the comparison group did not improve comprehensibility, marginal improvement in intelligibility emerged at the end of the intervention, which was not significant. The results of a series of paired-sample t-tests revealed that the intelligibility group exhibited substantial gains in some segmentals (i.e., high FL vowels and low FL consonants) and suprasegmentals (i.e., lexical stress, prominence, and level tone choice) while the comparison group only showed gains in some segmentals. The analyses of the learners’ qualitative responses also revealed that the learners in both groups were satisfied with the quality of the online pronunciation course. The results suggest that online-based intelligibility instruction can help L2 learners achieve more intelligible and comprehensible speech and offer new directions for future pronunciation classes in global contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Comprehensibility; Intelligibility; Intelligibility instruction; L2 pronunciation; Online; Segmentals and suprasegmentals; English language learners; English as a second language
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Arts and Letters > English
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2022 17:50
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2022 17:50
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5863

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