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Marching from the inner voice: A layered approach with an integration of drama and computer-assisted pronunciation trainings to pronunciation pedagogy

Some learners of English reported having difficulty with fluent enunciation of multi-syllable words s, while others were found pronouncing each syllable the same length of time or speaking without the proper stress and intonation. Studies found that because of their intonation, their communication did not deliver much emotion content. Studies have found that practice with computer-assisted pronunciation training (CAPT) software is beneficial to language learners; however, to some learners, the practice is mechanical and nonmeaningful.

Adopting Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, this proposal suggests an integrated and layered approach to pronunciation (including prosody) instruction, of which trainings underscore the use of intelligences related to emotion recognition and drama performance (e.g., role playing, improvisation, mime, simulation and frozen image building), and the visual speech of technology of CAPT software. The intelligences involved in the treatment include Verbal-linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial-visual, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences.

The 10-week experiment including 76 students of a junior college in Taiwan examines the effectiveness of the integrated approach and their difficulties in their pronunciation learning process. The experiment group (i.e., the Drama+MyET Group) received emotion recognition and drama trainings in addition to the use of CAP software while the control group (i.e., the MyET Group) only practiced with the software. It is found that the Drama+MyET Group had better performance in intonation while the MyET Group outperformed the Drama+MyET Group in timing (i.e., fluency).

The Drama+MyET Group reported that the training was fun and inspiring and they were able to identify a wide spectrum of emotions during the drama training. They further revealed that they could feel a relationship between the expressions of emotion and the suprasegmental categories of their voice. Nevertheless, some students complained that some gestures and body movements of others were too hard to imitate since everyone has his/her uniqueness of expression.

The two groups using the same CAP software reported that the feedback provided by the CAP system (i.e., MyET, developed in Taiwan), such as the 3D illustration of articulation of English sounds and the visual displays of intonation, facilitated their learning of enunciation and intonation. They also noticed their improvement in making pauses, linking and pitch changes. Above all, they reported that they could feel the interplay between the tension of characters’ emotion and the intensity in the characters’ speech.

On the other hand, many students in the two groups complained that it was hard for them to pronounce the vocabulary with multi-syllables and retroflex sounds while simultaneously controlling their emotional expression because the characters’ speaking speed was too fast and their dramatic intonations were too dramatic and exaggerative for them to imitate. The scoring system of MyET, to them, was also erratic, which made it difficult for them to know how to simulate the model speech of the system. A layered approach to pronunciation instruction is proposed.


Pi-hua Tsai    
the Center of Holistic Education
Mackay Medical College

Tsai, Pi-hua received her Ph.D. in the TESOL from the Department of English, National Chengchi University, Taiwan. She has been working as an English teacher for over 24 years. Decades of teaching experience have kindled her research interests in computer-assisted pronunciation teaching and learning, discourse analysis and children's language acquisition.


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