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
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
Teacher reference books (7):
Avery, P. and S. Ehrlich. 1992. Teaching
American English pronunciation. New York. Oxford University
Brown, A 1991. Teaching English
pronunciation: A book of readings. New York: Routledge, Chapman,
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
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).
Wong, R. 1993. "Pronunciation myths
and facts". English Teaching Forum. October, 1993. 45-46.
English Language Institute, University
University of Michigan Program in
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