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Learning how to speak: Pronunciation, pragmatics and practicalities in the classroom and beyond

  • Lynda Yates (a1)

That learners who want to develop good pragmatically-appropriate speaking skills in a language also need to develop good pronunciation is beyond dispute, and yet research continues to report that both areas still have low visibility in the curriculum and are often treated as poor relations in the classroom. Many teachers are still wary of what they see as specialist areas, a perspective that encourages their neglect in the curriculum, in assessment and in teacher training programmes. In this plenary I go back to basics and focus on what learners need to accomplish outside the classroom with the language they are learning. Drawing on studies that have explored the communicative needs of immigrants to Australia from language backgrounds other than English, I will illustrate the importance of both pronunciation and pragmatics in their lives. I will then consider the implications for how we can approach both skills proactively in the classroom in an integrated way that is capable of developing students’ repertoire of speaking skills for effective and appropriate use outside.

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