Exploring the Intersection Between Teachers’ Beliefs and Research Findings in Pronunciation Instruction

Charles Nagle, Iowa State University
Rebecca Sachs, Virginia International University
German Zarate-Sandez, Western Michigan University

This is an accepted manuscript of an article to be published as Nagle, C., Sachs, R., & Zárate-Sández, G. (in press). Exploring the intersection between teachers’ beliefs and research findings in pronunciation instruction. Modern Language Journal.

Abstract

This study explored teachers’ beliefs about pronunciation instruction in Spanish as a second language. An online survey was used to collect data from 100 participants, grouped into four categories based on their previous training in principles and methods of pronunciation instruction. This article reports results from 15 survey items which covered participants’ beliefs regarding six major themes: the importance of pronunciation, how pronunciation develops, when to teach it, what to teach, how to teach, and who can teach. Although the results revealed several areas where more methods-related coursework meant greater alignment between Spanish teachers’ beliefs and findings of L2 pronunciation research, there were other topics on which instructors with more training were likely to express beliefs contrasting with the state of the art. For instance, respondents with more coursework tended to accord more value to pronunciation instruction, to set more pronunciation-related goals for language instruction, and to reject delaying a focus on pronunciation. Unexpectedly, however, some seemed to uphold the native speaker model, suggesting that teacher training and professional development programs may need to emphasize research-informed practices and the importance of pedagogical expertise over nativelike pronunciation.