Attitudes Towards Pronunciation Instruction and Factors Affecting Its Success
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Pronunciation instruction involves both teachers as facilitators of the process and learners who become its ultimate addressees. The success can be measured in terms of fluency and accuracy of the speech produced by learners. Both teachers and learners are of paramount importance, but their independence as well as interdependence are constrained by a number of variables, some of which fall beyond their control. Teachers fulfil an extremely important role in the process of education and they have a very direct and straightforward influence on their learners. They shape the knowledge and the degree of competence and expertise that their learners gain. Therefore, their attitude to pronunciation instruction affects the perceptions of the learners on its relevance and significance. If teachers are not convinced that pronunciation instruction is relevant and worthwhile, it is difficult to expect a different approach from their learners. However, when learners refuse to study, even the most dedicated teachers will not reach success. Therefore, both learner and teacher cognition, attitudes and perceptions need to be investigated and analysed with the aim of enhancing the educational outcomes. There are numerous circumstances and constituents, such as good will, degree of exposure or motivation on the part of the learners and teachers, which could be modified and stimulated so as to improve pronunciation acquisition. Nonetheless, apart from learner-dependent factors there are a number of independent variables, which result from biological, physiological or economic conditions, such as individual aptitude, age or length of residence. These variables have the potential to impede the learning process and render it less successful than could be expected. Moreover, what needs to be also accounted for is the sociolinguistic aspect of pronunciation acquisition, determined by learners and their eagerness to preserve or to reject their cultural and linguistic identity. Accent is a transparent expression of social identity, therefore, the desire to manifest or hide it provides insightful knowledge on the speaker’s attitude to the accent variety they intend to learn.