Cognitive Linguistics and Pronunciation: The Case for Intelligibility

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Pronunciation is a central component to intelligibility and yet it is omitted from curriculums in South Korean university EFL courses. Research in this area show that benefits may be had from direct instruction Saalfield (2011:144). This study
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  Cognitive Linguistics and Pronunciation: The Case forIntelligibility Rolf I. Naidoo Im Sung Chool Authors may be contacted at:rolfnaidoo@gmail.com, scim929@gmail.com  e!artment of "nglish #anguage and #iterature $yung!oo% National &ni'ersity () aeha%*ro, +u%*gu aegu, South $orea, )2*)- Abstract  ronunciation is a central com!onent to intelligibility and yet it is omitted from curriculums inSouth $orean uni'ersity "/# courses. Research in this area sho0 that benefits may be had fromdirect instruction Saalfield 12)--:-3. 4his study e5!lores the use of the cogniti'e linguisticsconce!ts figure and ground in !ronunciation instruction to aid segmental im!ro'ement in learner  !roduction and a0areness by refocusing their attention and a0areness in and of the target !roblem !honemes. -)) $orean freshmen !artici!ated in the study. 6) learners recei'ed the/igure*7round treatment administered o'er a semester. 2) learners in a su!rasegemntal grou!recei'ing a commercially a'ailable curriculum and 2) learners form the control grou! recei'ingthe standard curriculum that contains no !ronunciation instruction. re* and !ost*test measures0ere conducted to ascertain differences in !erformance bet0een grou!s. #earners !artici!ated in8 forms of assessment, controlled sentence !roduction 1CS3, s!ontaneous tas% !roduction 1S43and a student self assessment uestionnaire 1SSA3. A 2 le'el treatment grounded in thecogniti'e conce!ts attention, a0areness and noticing form the basis for acti'ities consisting of cogniti'e reconce!tuali;ation, !honemic articulatory descri!tion, sentence drills, communicati'econ'ersation acti'ities and the use of drama for dee!er !rocessing. 4he results sho0 an increasein learner a0areness and !roduction in both the CS and S4. A student self*assessmentuestionnaire de!icts attitudes and beliefs of !artici!ants to further !ro'ide a more holistic 'ie0of a0areness and !roduction and any changes in attitudes or other !henomenon that uantitati'emethods may ha'e missed. $ey0ords: Intelligibility, !ronunciation, cogniti'e !honology, !honetics, second language acuisition, figureground, cogniti'e linguistics, curriculum design, "/#, "S#, 4"S<#, 4"S#, "S<#, teaching methodology,correcti'e feedbac%, form focused instruction, cogniti'e !honology. Introduction 2   Intelligibility is crucial in successful communication and in an "/# conte5t its im!ortancecannot be o'erstated. It is ine5!licably ignored in most uni'ersity courses, and gi'en the e5!ortdri'en nature of the South $orean economy one 0ould thin% indis!ensable. Intelligibility entailsthe successful decoding of a message by the listener =ilson > S!aulding 12)-):-?83. unro12)--:3 states that the cost of unintelligibility range from minor incon'enience to matters of life and deathB. Intelligibility seems to !ermeate all as!ects of our li'es from the mundane to the'ital there seems to be no esca!ing it and yet its commonly acce!ted definition eludes us /ield12))?:8993. ronunciation is a central com!onent of intelligibility. o0e'er it has been ignored byresearchers and teachers and remains a neglected com!onent of "S#D"/# !rograms 1er0ing4. 2)-)3. orely 1-99-:((3 says that Intelligible !ronunciation is an essential com!onent of communicati'e com!etenceB. 4here seems to be resurging interest in !ronunciation teaching andthe research that goes along 0ith it resulting in a 0idely e5!ressed need for content andmethodologies that reflect ad'ances made in second language teaching thus far Seidelhoffer >alton*uffer 1-99?:-8?3. Recently research a!!lying cogniti'e linguistics to second language learning has gro0ne5!onentially. 4his study in'ol'es the a!!lication of Cogniti'e #inguistic conce!ts, /igure and7round to !ronunciation instruction in order to im!ro'e learner !roduction and a0areness. Significance 3   4his study is uniue because first, $orean learners are not similar to Ea!anese learners of "nglishF ho0e'er most instructors, te5tboo%s and researchers seem to generali;e the findings inEa!anese or Chinese research to $orea. Second, the a!!lication of /igure and 7round 1conce!tsin Cogniti'e #inguistics3 to !ronunciation instruction s!ecifically* intelligibility, has not beendealt 0ith in the literature, third !ronunciation instruction needs to be included in this conte5t yetit is ignored by uni'ersities, fourth segmental issues !lague $orean intelligibility more than anyother !rosodic factor contrary to !rior research !ublished that state su!rasegmental factors ascrucial to intelligibility o'er segmental instruction /ield 12))?:)23. =e need to differentiate that0hen dealing 0ith !ronunciation indi'idual conte5ts demand instruction s!ecific to that locationand some generali;ations cannot be made to all conte5ts based on the res!ecti'e locationsreuirements. /inally this study deals 0ith intact classes that are to be studied, 'ery fe0 e5!eriments ha'edealt 0ith natural in class settings most e5!eriments ha'ing been conducted in a lab setting Saito12)-2:(3. =hy bother 0ith intelligibility, is it really that im!ortantG =ell #e'is 12)--:?63 inhis study assessing s!eech intelligibility as%ed !ronunciation s!ecialists to listen to a $orean andS!anish s!ea%er in order to e'aluate factors that im!acted intelligibility. <ne re'ie0er had this tosay about the $orean s!ea%er:  Bertha: That was funny. The same thing happened to me with Korean. I could not understand anything and I just switched off, you know, I was, “My od! "laughter#. 4his re'ie0erBs res!onse demonstrates the im!ortance of intelligibility, no one 0ants to belaughed at and ha'e !eo!le so baffled by your !ronunciation they s0itch offB.  4  Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Teaching  H7enerati'e linguistics has focused on !ure scholarshi! for its o0n sa%e. 4he only moti'ationis a desire to understand language much better. 4his tradition is most clearly re!resented by Noam Choms%y, 0ho denies that linguistics has, can ha'e, or indeed should ha'e any rele'anceto language teaching 1see e.g., <lson et al. -99-3. <n the other hand, cogniti'e linguistics hasclaimed that the !ractical benefits are !artly e'ident, because any maor inno'ation in linguistictheory is bound to im!act teaching in foreign language 1see e.g. Achard > Niemeier 2))F#angac%er 2))-F Radden > ir'en 2))F 4aylor -9983 atsumoto 12))(:-263J. <ne of the aimsof this study is to sho0 that cogniti'e linguistics can contribute substantially in order to !ro'ide a !ractical guide to second language teaching in an "/# conte5t e Ryc%er and e $no!12)--:293. A central assum!tion in cogniti'e linguistics is that e'erything in language is laden 0ithmeaning and ho0 users Hconstrue the 0orld anthro!ecentrically, subecti'ely and under theinfluence of a s!ecific cultural surroundingJ a'lo'ic 12)-):()3. Figure and Ground  In order to construe a /igure from its 7round, the figure must be made to !ossess certaincharacteristics. 4he general conce!tuali;ation of /igure and 7round in language according to 4almy 12))-:8-23:H4he /igure is a mo'ing or conce!tually mo'able entity 0hose !ath, site , or orientation isconcei'ed as a 'ariable, the !articular 'alue of 0hich is the rele'ant issue. 4he 7round is areference entity, one that has a stationary setting relati'e to a reference frame, 0ith res!ect to 5
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