The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Corrective Feedback on Eliminating Pronunciation Errors

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Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an abundance of research on the effectiveness of different forms of corrective feedback on the acquisition of a variety of grammatical features (e.g. Russell and Spada in Synthesizing research on language learning and teaching. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2006; Ellis in Studies in second language acquisition 32:335–349, 2010; Li in Lang Learn 60:309–365, 2010; Lyster and Saito in Stud Second Lang Acquis 32:265–302, 2010; Pawlak in Heteronomie glottodydaktyki: Domeny, pogranicza i specjalizacje nauczania języków obcych. Instytut Filologii Angielskiej, Poznań, 2010; Sheen and Ellis in Handbook of research in second language learning and teaching. Routledge, London and New York, 2011; Pawlak in Error correction in the foreign language classroom: reconsidering the issues. Adam Mickiewicz University and State School of Higher Professional Education in Konin Press, Poznań–Kalisz–Konin, 2012), which demonstrated, that the treatment of errors in the course of communicative activities results in increased control over the targeted linguistic features, not only in terms of explicit but also implicit knowledge, with the qualification that such pedagogic intervention should be focused, intensive and consistent (cf. Leeman in Practice in a second language: perspectives from applied linguistics and cognitive psychology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007; Ellis in L2 J 1:3–18, 2009; Pawlak in Heteronomie glottodydaktyki: Domeny, pogranicza i specjalizacje nauczania języków obcych. Instytut Filologii Angielskiej, Poznań, 2010; Sheen and Ellis in Handbook of research in second language learning and teaching. Routledge, London and New York, 2011; Pawlak in Error correction in the foreign language classroom: reconsidering the issues. Adam Mickiewicz University and State School of Higher Professional Education in Konin Press, Poznań–Kalisz–Konin, 2012). Little research specifically addresses the impact of various techniques of providing corrective feedback on the acquisition of foreign language pronunciation. The paper reports the findings of a pilot study which compared the effect of explicit (overt) and implicit (covert) correction on eliminating pronunciation errors committed by advanced learners of English. The study involved 36 English philology students and took the form of a quasi-experiment with two experimental and one control groups. The students in the experimental groups took part in communicative activities in the course of which their mispronunciations of selected words were corrected explicitly and implicitly while the control group focused on other tasks. Ability to pronounce the targeted words was measured on a pretest and a posttest, both of which included a reading text and a free production task. The results serve as a basis for a handful of recommendations on how pronunciation errors should most beneficially be dealt with and some suggestions for further research.