USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Russia:
April 26 - May 13, 1999

By Joan Morley, University of Michigan


About the Specialist

Joan Morley is a full professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan where she holds a dual appointment in the Program in Linguistics and the English Language Institute. Her BA degree from the University of Northern Colorado is in Drama and Speech Communication, and her two graduate degrees from the University of Michigan are in Speech Pathology and Audiology, and in Linguistics. She is a past president of TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and spent a total of ten years of elected service on the TESOL Board of Directors, including Chair of the TESOL 1977 Convention in Miami. Currently she is Past Chair of the Speech/Pronunciation Interest Section (SPRIS) and is on the Board of Trustees of the TESOL International Research Foundation (TIRF). She has served on the USIA English Language Advisory Panel and has been a government language consultant for a number of agencies in the U.S. (USIA, Foreign Service Institute, and Defense Language Institute language centers) and Canada (Canadian Forces Language Programs at three training bases.) She has traveled widely and lectured in the United States, Puerto Rico,and seventeen countries. In her specialty areas of applied linguistics, second language oral communication theory and pedagogy, curriculum development and teacher training she has authored seventeen books (both student texts and teacher reference books) and sixty-four papers, and recorded seventeen video programs (several for USIA Worldnet) and six commercial audio albums.


Areas of Specialization

  • Linguistics. Linguistic analysis of features of second language oral performance. Examining and constructing models of second language instruction. Addressing issues in applied linguistics and second language education including: program development; curriculum design; both pre-service and in-service professional training.
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Aspects of oral communication and aural comprehension including: fundamentals of pronunciation; advanced voice and articulation; discourse-based instruction in advanced discussion and oral argumentation; 'public speaking' in conference and classroom setting; lecture comprehension and note-taking.


Trip Report

During April and May, 1999, a number of universities and organizational groups in different parts of Russia were visited. Academic sessions on a variety of aspects of English Language Teaching (ELT) were held at each location, highlighted by very productive wide-ranging discussions with Russian colleagues. As requested, specialty topics focused on the ELT teaching of the spoken language skills of oral communication (speech production and speech performance) and aural comprehension (models for teaching listening skills and strategies). In addition, general state-of-the-art lectures were presented in some locations on topics such as: current directions in ELT theory and pedagogy, error analysis and error correction, and professional training in ELT.

At each venue, attending linguists, professors of phonetics and phonology, and teachers of English had opportunities to share ideas and contribute to the sum of the intellectual content. This was done both formally during discussion sessions following my presentations, and informally at enjoyable receptions, teas, luncheons and dinners. Professors, teachers, and graduate students, alike, were most forthcoming and this format resulted in many lively and informative exchanges. We found we had much to share, and much to learn from one another.

ELT colleagues in Russia have impressive credentials in their high levels of proficiency in English, and in their command of both linguistic information about English, and specifics of ELT theory and pedagogy. Our discussions brought out much common ground and a clear feeling of professional consensus on many of the current issues in language teaching. Russian linguists and teachers are very skilled teachers of phonetics, a basic component in oral communication skills for students. In addition, in their instructional pedagogy today, they are moving ahead (as is the case in both EFL and ESL programs, worldwide) toward a major goal of integrating three elements: (1) phonetics and pronunciation instruction, (2) communicative language teaching and oral communication in specific settings, (3) special attention to context-specific oral discourse structuring and oral language communicative functions.

Several ways in which the goal of integrating the three elements noted above can be achieved were described and illustrated through video taped segments of oral communication work in EAP courses at the University of Michigan. In particular, two major areas were discussed: (1) ASSESSMENT (detailed evaluation of both speech elements and pronunciation elements, initially, and periodically) and (2) CURRICULUM (a framework designed to move learners smoothly through 'imitative' and 'rehearsed' activities [as needed], to the all-important 'extemporaneous' and 'real-world' phase of speaking practice). Russian colleagues and I focused especially on the different ways activities, materials, and strategies can be adapted for implementation in the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context as different from the ESL (English as a Second Language) setting. Much discussion revolved around the challenges of EFL teaching as compared with ESL teaching, including the absence of an English-speaking communicative environment and the need to 'manufacture' one.

As noted above, one particular difficulty lies in the fact that, whereas communicative speech/pronunciation activities and tasks can be implemented in classrooms, there are few opportunities for learners to use English communicatively outside their classes. Russian colleagues shared their thinking on constructing ways to provide such experiences. In fact, at two different universities special demonstrations had been planned for my visit. In one university, the English Club gave a splendid program of skits and songs for me (and an audience of 40-50 people), whereupon I was privileged to give out the prizes for the best performances! In another university, students 'taught' a class demonstrating an innovative methodology. A second area of concern for EFL teachers lies in maintaining their own English speech/pronunciation skills at an appropriate level. They report that they, too, have few opportunities to use English outside their classrooms. A number of creative ways to deal with this problem were generated by participants. Plans for regular meetings (both social and professional) of English teacher groups were discussed.

During the visit I was met with congeniality, warmth, and hospitality, and in particular, much willingness to share with me, as time permitted, aspects of the rich culture and history of the great Russian spirit.

Participants expressed satisfaction with the professional exchanges we had, and both the substance and the spirit of our collective work. One participant noted that: "Surely, new joint projects and conferences are to be organized as a result of this very fruitful professional gathering". Another participant emphasized the need, ".. to introduce the paradigm presented by Professor Morley on a larger scale, securing its adaptation to the requirements of a different system of education."

Several universities discussed the possibility of a longer return visit, with time for two/three day workshops which would allow active application of principles and ideas to unique teaching situations. Funding sources are being investigated.



Suggested Bibliography

Teacher reference books (7):

Avery, P. and S. Ehrlich. 1992. Teaching American English pronunciation. New York. Oxford University Press.

Brown, A 1991. Teaching English pronunciation: A book of readings. New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall.

Celce-Murcia, M., D. Brinton, and J. Goodwin. 1996. Teaching pronunciation: A reference for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Dalton, C., and B. Seidlhofer. Pronunciation. New York: Oxford U. Press.

Morley, J. 1994. Pronunciation theory and pedagogy: New views, new directions. (ed) Alexandria, VA: TESOL Publications.

Morley, J. 1987. Current perspectives on pronunciation: Practices anchored in theory. (ed) Washington, DC: TESOL Publications.

Pennington, M. 1996. Phonology in English language teaching: An international approach. New York, NY: Addison, Wesley, Longman. 

Articles and chapters (8):

Acton, W. 1984. "Changing fossilized pronunciation." TESOL Quarterly, 18(1). 71-86.

Gilbert, J. "Pronunciation and listening comprehension." In J. Morley (ed) Current perspectives on pronunciation. Washington, DC: TESOL. 29-40.

Morley, J. 1991. "The pronunciation component in teaching English to speakers of other languages". TESOL Quarterly. 25 (3). 481-520.

Morley, J. 1994. "A multidimensional curriculum design for speech/pronunciation instruction". In Morley (ed) Pronunciation theory and pedagogy: New views, new directions. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Publications. 64-91.

Morley, J. 1996. "Second language speech/pronunciation: Acquisition, instruction, standards, variation, and accent." In Alatis, Straehle, Gallenberger, and Ronkin (eds) Georgetown University round table on languages and linguistics, 1996. Washington DC: Georgetowm University Press. 140-160.

Murphy, J. 1991. "Oral communication in TESOL: Integrating speaking, listening, and pronunciation." TESOL Quarterly. 25 (1). 51-75.

Pennington, M., and J. Richards. 1986. "Pronunciation revisited." TESOL Quarterly. 20 (2). 207-225.

Wong, R. 1993. "Pronunciation myths and facts". English Teaching Forum. October, 1993. 45-46.



Recommended Links

English Language Institute, University of Michigan

University of Michigan Program in Linguistics


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