Teaching Pronunciation via Computer Technology: Principles and Best Practices
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This paper sheds light on the case of integrating computer technology to teach pronunciation to EFL learners, precisely, Arab learners. It explores different computer programs that have been discussed in the literature and suggests best practices and principles for teaching pronunciation via computer software. Also, it provides a practical example of how to use pronunciation software to teach pronunciation in a Saudi classroom that contains Arab EFL learners from different countries. Specifically, this paper is divided into four major sections: a) Literature review: In this section, the author discusses the significance of pronunciation instruction in increasing learners’ awareness towards novel sounds. Also, he suggests best classroom practices such as minimal pairs contrast, using animated visuals, role play, and read aloud to help learners perceive and acquire segmental sounds. Then, he sheds light on studies that discuss different types of pronunciation software, namely, ASR-based and non-ASR. Non-ASR programs can help learners improve their perception of the sounds. One of the best non-ASR software is Pronunciation Power which provides specific sound focused exercises. ASR-based programs such as MyET provide learners with authentic exposure to the language as well as multi-level feedback, specifically, visual, auditory, and waveform as well as specific and holistic scores. Teachers for the best results should integrate both types and at the same time have an active role in the classroom through providing more exposure to the target sounds. b) Specific English pronunciation problems for Arab Learners: in this section, the author discusses problematic English sounds for Arab learners from different countries and Arabic vernacular backgrounds. Then he sheds light on the efficacy of CAPT instruction for Arab learners. c) Classroom Implications for Arab Learners in Saudi Arabia: In this section, the author discusses the impact of the mere absence of pronunciation instruction on learners’ pronunciation proficiency. Also, he suggests what he believes is the best way to apply CAPT instruction in Saudi Arabia. Then, the author concludes with 13 principles to produce a successful CAPT classroom. d) Unit Plan: In this section, the author provides a practical demonstration of CAPT instruction by providing detailed lesson plans to teach /p/, /v/, and /tʃ/, three problematic sounds for Arabic learners of English.