Developing pronunciation skills at the introductory level: motivating students through interpersonal audio discussions
This study investigated students' motivation to develop pronunciation skills while participating in shared conversations called interpersonal audio discussions because research has suggested that learners desire pronunciation instruction in hopes of achieving native-like pronunciation (Gilakjani & Ahmadi, 2011; Harlow & Muyskens, 1994; Drewelow & Theobald, 2007) and that social environments are useful in developing proficiency in a second language (Atkinson, 2002; Aubry, 2009; Ducate & Lomicka, 2009; Firth & Wagner, 1997; Kramsch & Whiteside, 2007; Lee, 2014; Lord, 2008; Pica, 1994b; Smith, Alvarez-Torres & Zhao, 2003; Warschauer, 1996). Due to the plethora of online learning communities, there is also a need for research-based findings that evaluate emerging pedagogical tools for pronunciation development. Participants in the present study were enrolled in a second-semester French course where they focused on pronunciation skills in a web-based software called VoiceThread. Through two questionnaires, journal entries, and assessment activities, students continuously self-reported about the effects of participation on perceptions of pronunciation and its development. Data was analyzed through a mixed methods approach. Results indicated that students had more positive opinions of performance on pronunciation-related tasks as well as higher L2 self-confidence associated with pronunciation after participation. Furthermore, findings detailed how increased interactivity in VoiceThread influenced students' motivation in pronunciation. The study's conclusions maintain that participation in VoiceThread raises students' awareness of their performance in pronunciation thereby creating a feedback-supported environment conducive not only to pronunciation development but also to self-motivation regarding the skill.