Teaching /l/ and /r/ to Japanese EFL Learners: Support for Segmental-Level Pronunciation Instruction

| April 24, 2007
Title
Teaching /l/ and /r/ to Japanese EFL Learners: Support for Segmental-Level Pronunciation Instruction

Keywords: Pronunciation instruction, pronunciation teaching, pronunciation learning, segmental, suprasegmental, Japanese EFL learners, /l/ and /r/

Authors
Brian G. Rubrecht
Chengdu University of Technology

Bio Data
Brian G. Rubrecht earned his Masters degree in TESOL and Bilingual Education from Georgetown University in 2000 and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 with a doctoral degree in Foreign Language Education. Currently an instructor in the English Department at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, his research interests include language learning motivation, learning strategies, and learner autonomy.

Abstract
It is common knowledge that Japanese native speakers have difficulty producing the English sounds of /l/ and /r/. While recent literature has recommended abandoning minimum pair drills and beginning pronunciation instruction with the teaching of suprasegmentals, some researchers have found that English learners still benefit from being taught the physical differences behind the production of these sounds. Based on successes from the author s use of a self-developed pronunciation instruction method, comparisons were made in the understandability of /l/ and /r/ production in both minimal pairs and sentences by students who received this segmental-level instruction versus those who did not. Though modest, results from this preliminary study still indicate greater intelligibility in the test group, thereby providing a measure of additional support for the teaching of segmental-level aspects of pronunciation.
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Category: Teaching Articles, Volume 19