1800s and early 1900s that pronunciation started to be taught through imitation and intuition (Celce- Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin, 1996). Teacher, as the role model was the source of input for students to imitate and repeat. In this method, pronunciation was taught through intuition and imitation; students imitated a model – the teacher or a recording – and did their best to approximate the model through imitation and repetition. This instructional method was grounded on observations of children learning their first language and of children and adults learning foreign languages in non-instructional settings. With audio-lingualism, pronunciation gained considerable significance. Many historians of language teaching (e.g,.Howatt 1984) believe that the Reform Movement played a role in the development of audio-lingualism in the United States and of the Oral Approach in Britain during the 1940s and 1950s. In both pronunciations are very important and is taught explicitly from the start. As in Direct Method classroom, the teacher (or a recording) models a sound, a word, or an utterance and the students imitate or repeat. However, the teacher also typically makes use of information from phonetics or charts that demonstrate the articulation of sounds.
However, in 1960s, pronunciation teaching lost its credit again, once more grammar and vocabulary gained the upper hand. According to Morley (1987), because of the discontent with the principles and practices of pronunciation teaching, many programs started to exclude teaching pronunciation. In the 1960s the Cognitive Approach viewed language as rule-governed behavior rather than habit information. In fact, it was influenced by transformational-generative grammar and cognitive psychology This approach deemphasized pronunciation in favor of grammar and vocabulary because, its advocates argued (1) native like pronunciation was an unrealistic objective and could not be achieved (Scovel, 1969); and (2) time would be better spent on teaching more learnable items, such as grammatical structures and words.
In 1980s, with communicative approach, there was a clear trend in teaching foreign language, and this trend moved toward teaching pronunciation again (Celce-Murcia, 1996). L2 pronunciation, gained new meaning due to its fruitfulness to a broad group of international people in both ESL and EFL settings (Anderson-Hsieh, 1998; Brown, 1991; Derwing & Munro, 2005). Since then, pronunciation has been included in language teaching. The perspective of language teaching aspires to communication; and this aim welcomes pronunciation in the teaching process with a goal of intelligible pronunciation and communication; nevertheless, practice within classes often veers off the road. According to Brown (1991), “Pronunciation has sometimes been referred to as the „poor relation‟ of the English language teaching (ELT) world… and usually swept under the carpet” (p.1). As also suggested by Gilakjani and Ahmadi (2011), “It [pronunciation] is granted the least attention in many classrooms” (p. 74) and unlike the voice of the literature, is usually neglected maybe because as Levis and Grant (2003) claim “despite the recognized importance of pronunciation, teachers often remain uncertain about how to incorporate it into the curriculum” (p. 13).
2.10. Definition and Importance of pronunciation
Pronunciation is the practice and meaningful use of target language phonological features in speaking, supported by practice in interpreting those phonological features in TL (Burgess and Spencer, 2000; 191-192). They remarked that, in pronunciation it is the nature of the process to practice listening and speaking by interpreting and producing phonological features respectively. So pronunciation as a skill includes both recognition and production. Pronunciation is a set of habits of producing sounds. The habit of producing a sound is acquired by repeating it over and over again and by being corrected when it is pronounced wrongly. Learning to pronounce a second language means building up new pronunciation habits and overcoming the bias of the first language (Cook, 1996).
Therefore, it refers to the production of sounds. Intelligible pronunciation is only one of the needed skills for speaking a foreign language, and it is often not emphasized in the classroom. There has been some renewed interest in teaching pronunciation explicitly because of studies that show that pronunciation quality below a certain level of proficiency places additional stress on the listener and seriously degrades the ability of native speakers to understand what is being said (Peabody, 2011; 26). Improvements in the pronunciation of learners whose pronunciation has plateaued at a less than desirable level are possible through pronunciation training.
Native-like intonation can also be learned. However, this is extremely difficult for even advanced language learners. In addition to requiring lots of output to improve pronunciation, students cannot attend to all aspects of pronunciation at the same time, e.g. attending to phonetic accuracy takes processing time away from attending to intonation. A foreign language learner will make a number of pronunciation errors at the phonetic (segmental) and prosodic levels when producing speech in a target language. Errors at the segmental level can be generally classified as substitution, insertion, deletion, and duration errors. Errors at the prosodic level are more difficult to categorize. There is some debate over whether phonetic or prosodic aspects of pronunciation have more impact on perceived pronunciation quality. While the sources of these errors are a topic of research in the linguistic community, there seems to be a consensus that the phonetic inventory of the native language interferes to a certain extent with the production of sounds in the foreign language. Traditional approaches to pronunciation have often focused on segmental aspects, largely because these relate in some way to letters in writing, and are therefore the easiest to notice and work on. More recent approaches to pronunciation, however, have suggested that the suprasegmental aspects of pronunciation may have the most affection intelligibility for some speakers.
Brown (1991) used the metaphor of a hi-fi system to show the importance of the pronunciation: a hi-fi system is only as good as its weakest component. That is, low quality loudspeakers will disguise the fact that the amplifier, cassette deck, etc. may incorporate state-of-the-art technology (p. 1). If a person has poor and unintelligible pronunciation, a successful communication cannot take place even if s/he has fluent speech with precise grammar and vocabulary use (Ak, 2012: 26). Likewise, if a person is not aware of the phonological features of the foreign language, it will be difficult to interpret what the speaker means; thus, it will not be easy to achieve smooth communication. Therefore, pronunciation should be regarded as an important part of communication; since the focus of language learning is communication- at least in theory-, it should be integrated in classes (Brown, G., 1995, Levis & Grant, 2003).
2.11. Components of Pronunciation
Pronunciation has two main components, also known as features; segmental and suprasegmental features. Segmental features include individual sounds; vowels and consonants. On the other hand, suprasegmental features include features beyond sounds; such as intonation, rhythm, and stress. Teachers are mainly concerned with improving their students’ pronunciation of segmental phonemes (i.e., vowels and consonants), and suprasegmental features such as mentioned above. However, it must be realized that the ability to correctly pronounce sounds is not sufficient; English students also need to learn superasegmental features since they are crucially important in communication. As Paulston and Burder (1976, p. 91) claim, superasegmentals constitute the major difficulty for students in acquiring a good pronunciation. However, it is impo
rtant to remember that they all work in combination when we speak, and are therefore usually best learned as an integral part of spoken language.
In the learning of a second or a foreign language, individuals not only need to know how to produce phonemes and segmental elements correctly, but also master suprasegmental features in order to achieve an effective oral communication.
As stated by Ur (1984),’ a learner may enunciate the sounds perfectly and still sound foreign because of unacceptable stress and intonation; in Oriental “tone” languages intonation often makes a difference to meaning. Particularly in English language, a change in word stress may occur according to the function the word has in the sentence, and thus the sound may change in the same word. For this reason, it is very important for students, who are learning English as a foreign language, become aware of how segmental and suprasegmental features interact with each other in speech production. Below is a diagram summarizing the main features of pronunciation:
Figure1. Features of Pronunciation
2.13.1 Segmental features of pronunciation
When studying pronunciation we deal with a theoretical context of phonetics and phonology. Catford describes phonetics as the study of the physiological, aerodynamic, and acoustic characteristics of speech-sounds, whereas phonology, studies how sounds are organized into systems and utilized in languages (1992: 187). If we want to study the functions of language and the pronunciation itself we have to break down the constituent units. Segmental features are sets of distinctive sounds of particular language (Kelly 1969). Catford states that phonemes are the minimal sequential contrastive unites of the phonology of language (1988: 198). The contrastive function of phonemes is that there are the bits of sounds that differentiate one