115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Effect of Raising Awareness to Prosodic Features in Speech through Noticing Techniques and Visual Feedback: A Practioner's Approach

Carla Liu, California Baptist University

Comprehensibility can be challenging for non-native speakers despite English fluency. However, clarity can be improved effectively through focused attention on prosody.  Prosodic features consist of stress, rhythm, and intonation. The purpose of this research study was to increase speaker awareness of these features through specific techniques to improve academic presentations.

Proposal: 

This research study investigated the effect of raising awareness to English prosodic features of stress, rhythm, and intonation in second language learner’s speech for the purpose of improving comprehensibility, particularly as it pertains to academic presentations. Visual feedback and a noticing-reformulation technique were used to aid in this process. Seven student participants were involved in the study consisting of 3 male and 4 female university students who were enrolled in an advanced presentation skills course in the Intensive English Program (IEP). Six of the participants were Chinese and one was Indian. A comparison group was also used and consisted of archival data from seven students who were enrolled in the same course in a previous semester. The classroom teacher participated as well in collecting observational data. In addition, two trained raters took part in listening to and rating each monologue completed for the pretest, posttest and comparison data. The quantitative data collection consisted of the ratings of the monologues by the two raters as well as ratings given by the classroom teacher based on her observations. A questionnaire also collected the student participants’ perception of their prosodic patterns and the mean scores were analyzed. Findings showed preliminary statistical significance in regards to improved intonation patterns and overall comprehensibility; however, the results cannot be generalized because of the small sample size of the group participants. Additional results from the student participants’ perception of their own prosodic patterns showed that rhythm and thought groups were considered more helpful than intonation. Although this varied from the ratings given by both of the raters and the classroom teacher, the reason could be due to the fact that thought groups were addressed in both rhythm and intonation. Furthermore, the noticing-reformulation technique was perceived as more beneficial than the visual feedback. However, the perceptions’ regarding the treatment were favorable and indicate that intentional noticing potentially increases intake of prosodic features for academic presentations.

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