When Input is Not Enough: Implementing Meaningful Pronunciation Instruction in the L2 Spanish Classroom

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Friday, October 4th
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
ICC 450

Friday, October 4th
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
ICC 450


The last two decades have seen a surge in research on second language (L2) pronunciation in instructed settings. Findings have demonstrated the beneficial effects of pronunciation instruction (PI) and have reconceptualized L2 pronunciation as an element that contributes to comprehensible and intelligible speech rather than an area where nativelike (i.e., “accent” free) oral proficiency is expected. Despite these developments in our understanding L2 pronunciation
learning, survey-based research suggests teacher education fails to prepare instructors to implement PI effectively. In this talk, I will analyze this issue as it pertains to the relatively underexplored area of L2 Spanish. First, I review data showing that certain aspects of Spanish segmental and suprasegmental phonology are learned without targeted instruction while others seem to benefit from pedagogical intervention. Second, I examine recent survey-based research demonstrating that Spanish instructors feel unprepared to teach pronunciation or have beliefs and practices that are not compatible with current PI approaches. Finally, I integrate learner and teacher data into a plan that fosters proactive and reactive approaches to tackle pronunciation instruction in the Spanish curriculum.

Originally from San Juan, Argentina, Dr. Germán Zárate-Sández is an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish at Western Michigan University. Most of his research focuses on how pronunciation in a second language develops in the classroom context. Dr. Zárate-Sández’s research has appeared in venues such the Modern Language Journal, Language Teaching Research and edited volumes published by De Gruyter and Routledge. His most recent project on implementing pronunciation instruction in the Spanish classroom has been funded by a Language learning Early Career Research Grant. At WMU, Dr. Zárate-Sández teaches courses in applied linguistics, trains novice language teachers, and serves as the language program director for basic and intermediate Spanish instruction.