Technology-Assisted Training in L2 Spanish Pronunciation: Evaluation From Phonetic and Psychometric Perspectives

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University of Alabama Libraries

Pronunciation is often not given the attention it deserves in the foreign language classroom, especially as research continues to show that poor pronunciation can impede communication (Agostinelli, 2012; Arteaga, 2000). Recent attempts have been made to determine the utility of technology for the purposes of acquiring another language; specifically, speech recognition technology, along with the feedback it can provide, has been found to assist with pronunciation acquisition (Golonka et al., 2014). This study investigated the effects of technology-enhanced Spanish pronunciation training and its potential to improve beginning L2 learners’ accuracy in pronouncing grapheme-phoneme mismatches as well as a decrease in voice onset time (VOT) duration when producing the voiceless stops /p t k/. Over the course of a semester, the pronunciation of learners using an app with speech recognition functionality was compared to that of learners interacting with pronunciation activities in the online companion to the course textbook, and to learners who completed grammar activities with no pronunciation component. Overall, both the grapheme-phoneme mismatch accuracy and VOT duration showed improvement with use of technologies and over time. Beyond the improvement in pronunciation, this study investigated the participants’ opinions regarding the technology they interacted with. The software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) (Pennebaker, Booth, et al., 2015) was utilized to conduct psychometric analyses of participants’ thoughts and emotions regarding their assigned technology from the language used in the questionnaire responses. Despite participants’ generally positive views of their assigned technology, the findings also supported previous claims that enjoyment does not necessarily translate into improvement (Youngs et al., 2011), and suggest that too much focus on the technology itself may hinder pronunciation improvement.

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English, grapheme-phoneme mismatches, L2 acquisition of pronunciation, LIWC, Spanish, voice onset time