Teaching Pronunciation to Esl Adult Learners Essay

2984 Words Jul 18th, 2013 12 Pages
UNSL- Ciclo de Licenciatura en Lengua Inglesa
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Teaching pronunciation to ESL adult learners

The acquisition of pronunciation proficiency may be one of the most intricate areas for ESL adult learners. For years it has been argued that adults have great difficulty in learning a second language, especially its phonological aspects. This paper aims at reviewing the theory regarding second language learning and at finding evidence in previous research that adults are capable of learning a foreign language as successfully as children. In relation with pronunciation learning, there is evidence that adults may not acquire foreign sounds with the same accuracy as children do. However, it also possible to find within the
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Vigotzky (Read, C. 2009) coined for this the term scaffolding, which refers to the ability to assimilate new knowledge on the basis of previous knowledge. Although pronunciation may be one of the most problematic areas for ESL adult learners, it could be possible to acquire a better level of sound production through, for instance, the comparison of the sound system of their mother tongue with the sound system of the target language at a more abstract level, and a basic explanation of the articulators and how they are used at a more concrete level. Therefore, specific instruction in pronunciation may lead the students towards a more solid production of L2-like sounds.

2.2 The Critical Period

The Critical period Hypothesis (Lightbown and Spada, 1999) suggests that there is a period in which the human brain is predisposed for success in language learning and that around puberty the developmental changes in the brain affect the nature of language acquisition. From a physiological point of view this stage would coincide with the point at which it is believed that the lateralization of the brain and the inner ear development is completed (Celce-Murcia, 1996). From this perspective, after puberty students’ learning may not be based on the innate biological structures that are considered to contribute to first language acquisition or second language acquisition in early childhood

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