Vocalism, Phonetics and CALL for Accent Reduction

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Ikuyo (Mayuko) Ryobe, Kyoto Sangyo University


To moderate strong Japanese English accents, which hinder communication with people overseas, the author used a blended learning/teaching approach that combines teachers’ face-to-face instruction on vocalism and traditional segmental and suprasegmental phonemes, with web-based pronunciation practice using two free websites. One such website contains speech-recognition software and various kinds of authentic videos; the other uses illustrated animation of oral and nasal cavities, as well as audio and video, to aid in the instruction of how to correctly pronounce phonemes. The participants were 95 non-English majors, in total. The experimental group consisted of 75 students who registered for four pronunciation classes at two universities. The control group had 25 students who used the two websites under the exact same conditions as the experimental group, but did not receive any vocalism instruction. As a result, in the experimental group that was given advice on vocalism, both segmental and suprasegmental issues, voice quality, prosody (pitch, loudness, tempo, and rhythm), and overall impression improved considerably compared to that of the control group. However, both groups’ motivation and confidence relating to English pronunciation and learning improved.