At the Future of English Language Teaching Conference, Adam Scott presented on 'Model-free, guided discovery phonology: supporting learners’ identities, goals and plurilingual futures'.
Model-free classroom pronunciation takes phonology away from native models and teacher-led activities, opening up space to include each learner’s evolving identities. Phonological systems differ between languages meaning pronunciation teaching traditionally relies heavily on models, symbols and annotations to present these hard-to-communicate linguistic features. Frequently abstracting phonology from meaningful uses and contexts, these tools limit pronunciation’s accessibility and obscure its relevance in communicative classrooms and coursebooks, leading to impressions that both teachers and learners can largely ignore it. This typically leaves learners lacking a crucial support for their own language processing and reliant on transfer from the L1 phonological competencies undervalued by such approaches, which can generate conflicts between the L1 self and L2 learning, or with other learners or L1 speakers.
Guiding discovery of sounds and prosody values and enables learners’ phonological abilities and choices, focusing on constructing personalised understandings of phonology and supporting student-led, speechsound-based language development. This contextualised and inquiry-based pronunciation teaching recognises learners’ complex needs and individual developmental pathways, and helps learners notice and construct their own understanding of pronunciation. Consequently, teachers’ reliance on models and discrete practice reduces as learners’ relationships with pronunciation move beyond the ability to reproduce sounds as others present them. Deeper awareness gives learners real choice in setting, progressing and evolving individual pronunciation goals supporting their own affective and linguistic needs.
Avoiding models, guided discovery phonology activities build learners’ awareness and familiarity with practical features of spoken and written language, ranging from stress and crush zones, spelling patterns and pitch to developing phonological processing and memory, centred on communicative language use. Participants will sample these activities and gain a set of principles to guide an inclusive approach to pronunciation and phonology learning, core guided-discovery task design elements which help learners explore their phonological awareness and their own developmental goals.