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Enhancing Pronunciation for ELL Students Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 22nd, 2019

Conceptual Framework

All the things that I do and all the choices that I have made in life have entirely depended on the background and the experiences that I had while growing up.

My conceptual framework is, thus, brought into being by the academic experiences I had in Harvard University while undertaking an undergraduate degree in linguistic languages and also by the technical experiences I had as a tutor for English at a local school in my community. I have a well-built conviction that the experience I had as a tutor has put me in a good position to handle this research and answer the questions that might arise.

Getting a job as a tutor at my local school made me realize the academic perspective of coaching languages. My teaching talent was as a result of the training I underwent during my undergraduate schooling. It is important to note that when teaching, the teacher has to confirm that all the students conform to the basic requirements of the education standards.

Through teaching I was in a position to gauge the students’ capabilities. I knew when a student needed help or when the student was satisfied. It is in line with this background that I developed the interest to help the students with their pronunciation in order to enhance the maturity of languages and also the individual development of each student.

Due to the fact that many students do not receive a thorough training on language pronunciation at an early stage, they lack proper communication skills. As a teacher, I am more enthusiastic about making out how I handle this task of enhancing pronunciation among the students.

One of the things I have learned as teacher is to put the interests of the students before my personal interests. A teacher is there to serve the students but not to be served.

Teaching is like creating something out of nothing; hence, it is not an easy task to teach somebody a new thing at an advanced age. When teaching, the teacher relies a lot on the assistance he gets from the parents of the students. It is therefore imperative for the parents to work hand in hand with the teacher for the well being of the students.

The motive of my Master’s Project has been backed by my undying love for established languages. I intend to reach out to students who are widely influenced by their mother-tongue in pronouncing the established languages. Through this, my research is viewed to contribute much to the society.

I will resort to offering advice with regard to enhancing the pronunciations because it is exactly what the community needs. Actually, this research topic is expected to attract other scholars to conduct a similar research with regard to the topic. The topic on enhancing pronunciation for ELL students need to be taught widely and evaluate d.


The epistemology of my study is based on the cognitionist suggestions. This suggestion elaborates that the desire and enthusiasm to obtain knowledge varies from one person to another.

The process of knowledge development is evident to all students and it entirely depends on cultural norms and social norms. Even though the students have varied swiftness in terms of the yearning to access knowledge, it is worthy to note that the phases through which they make that progress remain the same.

It is required that the parents and the teachers of the students should resort to other better ways of passing out knowledge to the students. This notion came to me due to my encounters as a tutor. I met students who had varied ages and came from varied backgrounds and traditions.

Both the parents and the teachers have a big role to play toward creating a good atmosphere that enables the students to realize their true potentials and their significance to the society. Spelling and pronunciation are known to be going together; thus, it is upon the teacher to find out the best way to let the students realize by themselves the harmony that exists between spelling and pronunciation by availing to them relevant materials.

Under the cognitionist notion, both the teachers and the parents should let the students to make out inaccuracies and mistakes by themselves in order to raise the speed at which the children get to know new ideas. The students undergo through a lot of experiences during the learning process.

The cognitionist idea holds that the students can find a possible way to transform these personal experiences into practical ideas in real life. These experiences have a lot of relevance in terms of creating awareness to the children.

This argument can also be based on the enhancement of pronunciations in that the students can be able to relate their personal experiences to the real world and figure out a good way to enhance their pronunciations rather than relying on the different teaching techniques that are used by their teacher.

I have a strong feeling that when the students are given the time and the opportunity to learn on their own, their pronunciations can change in many different aspects.

In line with my area of specialization, that is, applying ELL in a two-language set up with the aim of enhancing pronunciation and evaluation in the society, the main suggestions under the cognitionist framework are revealed.

My research purposes not to seek for a single response, but rather equips me with a wide range of awareness with regard to the effectiveness of a bilingual set up on enhancing pronunciation to the students especially when they are still at a tender age. My research will also seek to find out the relevant books and evaluation methods that are beneficial in terms of teaching subjects that are in line with enhancement of pronunciation.


My research will entirely rely on the interpretivist paradigm. In line with this paradigm, the transfer of knowledge to students will vary according to the backgrounds of the students and the level of experience that they have had on the course of their learning process.

When the students are exposed to varied bilingual environments, their enthusiasm and ability to enhance their pronunciations will rely entirely with the kind of interactions that they have had.

This is due to the fact that each different environment offers a different experience to the students, hence, changing them in a relevant manner. Pronunciation plays a greater role toward enhancing the writing skills of the students. Thus students with poor or improper pronunciation skills are always lagging behind in terms of their written communication.

When the students are exposed to the same bilingual environment, it’s not guaranteed that they will all have the same knowledge of pronunciation. However, it is my strong conviction that the teacher really plays a huge role toward enhancing the pronunciation skills of the students.

When the pronunciation skills are enhanced the students will be in a better position to interact freely and easily with their counterparts who come from a totally different environment. When this happens, the ELL bilingual environment will totally be changed. It is my belief that the students will change their attitude so as to welcome the pronunciation subject and have an increased desire to learn the English language regularly.

The ELL pronunciation techniques should be inculcated into the curriculum in schools so that the learning capabilities of the students are boosted in that, it will be so much easy for the students to capture pronunciation techniques and the meanings of the new words that they encounter in the learning process.

In addition, the inclusion of pronunciation into the curriculum enables the students to improve their reading skills, communication skills and writing skills. In general, the student’s grammar will be highly boosted and their speed of acquiring knowledge will be highly promoted.

When a student’s pronunciation is improved, his/her individual self-esteem will rise, thus, he/she will not feel inferior among the other students. In my teaching practice, I will subject the students to quizzes involving spelling and pronunciation skills.

The quizzes will be conducted in the classroom during the normal lesson time. Each student will work individually and each will be given a different set of quiz that aims at testing the spelling or pronunciation skills.

My research will be so supportive to me as it will enable me to learn and observe and assess on how each student interacts with somebody from a different bilingual environment. Actually, my research will be so much interactive as the students will largely participate by providing relevant explanations to me.

The kind of atmosphere that I will create in the classroom will enable the students to interact freely and have the feeling that they are part of one large family. This will motivate them to work as a team and give their views without any reservations. Therefore, it is true to say that each student has a different perception with regard to change as they encounter change at different times of their lives.

Theoretical Framework

My theoretical framework is based upon the structural-functionalist and the behaviorism assumptions of educating, studying and interpreting. Apart from the structural-functionalist theory, the theoretical framework of this study is also based on the teacher development theory, cognitive theory and second language theory.

Teaching as an activity has several aspects. These aspects include social aspects, cognitive aspects, educational aspects and pedagogical aspects. Various studies have linked the experience and capabilities of the teacher to the success of the students in acquiring the second language (Lin, 2010).

Learning institutions need to be highly developed so as to positively contribute toward enhancing pronunciation skills within a given bilingual set up. In the recent years, several learning institutions have incorporated lessons that aim at improving spelling and pronunciation skills in their syllabuses.

Even though this move is considered to consume a lot of time and difficult to put into practice, many tutors have still widely endorsed the move. This has created the need for the school managers and other educators to come up with alternative methods of incorporating spelling and pronunciation techniques in the syllabus.

When the English language listeners enhance their pronunciation skills, it will put the students in a stable position to quickly capture what they are taught by the teachers. In addition, it will be so much beneficial to their interactive environment where they meet several people from different bilingual environments.

It is imperative for the students to improve their listening and grammar skills as this will provide them with an added enthusiasm to seek for more knowledge. English language is widely used in motivation of the students and also in teaching new ideas to the students.

The ability and strive of each and every student to develop the English language will determine the level at which the teacher puts additional efforts toward training them. The teacher, therefore, has to be able to evaluate whether the students have the ability to perfect the language further once they get the required knowledge.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon the teacher to wisely select the best teaching techniques and methods to use in passing out knowledge to the students. This will improve the level of student-teacher interaction and further create a suitable atmosphere for the students to advance in the learning process. Students normally require a more interactive teaching approach that promotes individual’s participation during the teaching time.

After having a well-built knowledge with regard to the relevance of enhancing pronunciation by the English language listeners, it is required that these skills be taught to the students in the class. The teacher will find it very easy when teaching students with varied ages, capabilities or from different ethnic backgrounds when their pronunciation is enhanced.

Through the teaching of reading skills to the students, the teacher always motivates them to practice reading continuously. Continuous reading enables the students to be much familiar with the English language and in the process, enhances their pronunciation skills.

It is also the duty of the teacher to avail to the students books that are full of language lessons. These language lessons play a very important role toward the lingual development of the student. This development is really necessary, especially when the student wants to enhance his/her pronunciation skills.

Literature Review

Lin (2010) looked at the wide variety of factors that influenced efficient pronunciation skills and also factors that contributed toward the enhancement of efficient pronunciation skills.

It is a common notion that the age of an individual will affect the learning and pronouncing of new languages or foreign languages due to the fact that the individual comes from a certain bilingual environment and this bilingual set up can affect his/her pronunciation ability in one way or the other.

Different studies have postulated that the ability to enhance pronunciations can be improved through relevant training methods (Yamashita, 2011). In another study, an experimental group of people was given an opportunity to listen to native speakers.

After that, their pronunciations were compared to those of the native speakers and it was duly noted that there was a small difference in their pronunciation dialects (Howard and Millar, 2009).

There were great similarities in terms of their patterns of stressing words and the change in their tone when explaining various words. The ability of a person to enhance his/her pronunciation, therefore, depends on the prosody training. Prosody is taken to mean the patterns that exist in words of different stresses and pitches and also include the intonational patterns of speech (Lin, 2010).

In many instances, technology has been used in order to assist the students with the pronunciation of the second language (Lin, 2010). This technology has been widely used in various forms with regard to the requirements of the students.

According to Howard and Millar (2009), efficient training for the English language listeners should be undertaken so as to help them remove the mother-tongue influence in their pronunciations. The mother-tongue influence is very common especially if a person is learning the second language when he/she is at an older age.

Various techniques have been employed to enhance prosody and one of the ways is through visual displays. The use of visual displays is very instrumental due to the fact that exact sounds and outlines of prosody are captured, thus the students have an added advantage in terms of getting the correct pronunciation patterns.

The students will be in a position to know when they make pronunciation mistakes because through visual displays, they will be in a good position to see and hear the correct grammatical pronunciations. In addition, the students will be able to evaluate themselves through checking the accuracies and precision of their pronunciations (Yamashita, 2011).

According to Yamashita (2011), the use of podcasts, television channels and internet are the various forms of technologies that are used to enhance pronunciations. He further states that the use of internet has been so much on the rise of late. Teachers have found a way to use internet in the classrooms with the aim of helping the students to enhance their English pronunciation.

Howard and Millar (2009) also recommend the use of podcast (downloadable internet audio files) in the learning process. Podcasts help the teachers to put the linguistic pronunciations into contexts and plan for relevant initiatives that aim at enhancing English pronunciations.

In addition, podcasts help the students to avoid the hassle of taking much time to listen and to repeat the words and sounds due to the fact that the teacher has the ability to download the audio files and distributing to each student (Yamashita, 2011). Some experiments have been carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of podcasts toward enhancing pronunciations.

Some students were subjected to learning without using podcasts, while others were availed with podcasts. At the end of the experiment, the students who were subjected to learning without podcasts did not have an enhanced pronunciation as compared to their counterparts who had podcasts (Lin 2010).

Podcasts play a very important role toward the development of pronunciation skills of the students. Through listening, the students are able to improve on their communication skills and writing skills. The effect of mother-tongue dialect on the speech of the students will be highly minimized.

In addition, the students will be in a good position to interact with all kinds of people from diverse bilingual environments (Yamashita, 2011). Howard and Millar (2009) also attribute the development of pronunciation skills to the use of podcasts.

Incorporating spelling into enhancement of pronunciation

Various studies have shown that both spelling and pronunciation go hand in hand (Sert, 2010). During the spelling of words, the students will entirely rely on the pronunciations of the words so as to figure out the correct spellings. As long as the pronunciations are encrypted in the students’ memories, the spelling becomes an easy task to fulfill.

The studies found out that the speed of spelling depends on familiarity with the pronunciations of the words to be spelled out. As long as the students are familiar with many English words, their abilities to learn more are boosted and enhance.

Sert (2010) explains that a group of students was given a task to work on individually, and they were given an explicit learning task that involved teaching sets of words on flashcards. The words selected were low-frequency nouns that students were expected to master, as declared by their teachers.

At the onset of the first trial, each student was given an opportunity to practice pronouncing the words. Sato and Suzuki (2010) emphasized that all successive trials tested their recall of the words and after the recall attempt, correct responses were provided to teach the significance of the words.

The practice went on until the students reached a criterion or a maximum number of tests whereby each student learned various sets of vocabulary words.

In the control experiment, the students learned spoken words without spelling that measured how quickly students learned the words as the learning trials developed, and how efficient they committed them to their memories them after a delay of 1 day. It is significant to note that when the recall of pronunciation of the words was tested, spellings were not introduced, so any benefit had to come from memory for the spellings.

According to Sato and Suzuki (2010), it is important to note that when spelling of the words were shown, no attention was drawn to their presence, and students had no need to decode them because as soon as the words were shown, the experimenter pronounced them (Hang, 2009). Thus, retention of spellings in memory happened incidentally.

The hypothesis tested indicated that students will learn the pronunciations and meaning of new words better when they see spellings of the words during study periods than when they do not learn (Hang, 2009). The explanation was that grapheme-phoneme connections would be activated by spellings and as a result would secure the pronunciations and meanings of words in memory earlier during learning (Sert, 2010).

Meanwhile, the students learn the pronunciation and the meanings of the vocabulary words better when they are exposed to spellings of the words than when they only practice speaking the words.

According to Gupta and Seyoum ( 2011), another reason is that spellings themselves become bonded to pronunciations in the memory and secure pronunciations earlier during the course of learning; thus, better pronunciations provide a stronger base for learning meanings (Hang, 2009).

Therefore, the cognitionist idea is applied here in that the teachers are required to become aware of the importance of spellings for vocabulary learning so they do not slight then in their teaching.

According to Grace (2010), when the teachers come across, speak, and put in plain words new vocabulary words to their students, they should take time to display the spellings of the words, for example when they are reading a story aloud to the entire class.

Chiang and Lin(2010) indicate that spelling of words are especially valuable for students who are learning a second language, and they help to clarify phonemes in pronunciations when students listen to spoken words while inspecting their spelling, thereby securing enhancement in pronunciation by ELL in the society.

The way to maximize chances that students will acquire full knowledge in pronunciation is to provide systematic phonics, word analysis, and spelling instruction during elementary grades (Gupta and Seyoum, 2011).

Testing ELL skills

Chiang and Lin (2010) suggest that personal differences in ELL performance and acquisition ability are typically recognized and examined with respect to proficiency in a non-native language.

Although, general rhetorical abilities, involving such factors as choice of words, syntactic constructions, and appropriateness in the pragmatic context can also be seen as expressions of proficiency and enhancement of the pronunciation (Hang, 2009).

However, general abilities in speech production and perception as needed in normal communicative situations are by definition considered equal in native speakers not suffering from language of cognitive disorders. Meanwhile, all ELL should exhibit equal levels of pronunciation skills within their native language with an exception of those with speech impairments (Yamashita, 2011).

Therefore, Hang (2009) believe that teachers must know the effective use of Instructional Conversations to teach pronunciation development. To understand the nature of second language conflict from a developmental perspective, understand the elements that promote pronunciation skills.

Develop the awareness of languages issues, questioning strategies for promoting open-ended discussions and facilitating pronunciation skills, create a facilitative classroom atmosphere. This will anticipate difficulties of practice, and experience personal cognitive conflicts as the teacher tries to introduce the problem.

Howard and Millar, 2009 showed that when teachers have knowledge on ELL education and facilitate Instructional Conversations students is more likely to discuss the pronunciation skills found within the bilingual environment.

Specifically, Yamashita (2011) found that students were four times as likely to mention more subtle or problematic aspects of friendship in their written essays after the lesson than were those students who did not use Instructional Conversations.

In the process of enhancing pronunciation the change that occurs can be well figured out by bearing in mind aspects of the connection between internal, emotional or affective states and pronunciation (Grace, 2010).

The effect culture on ELL

Social and cultural development comes with the ability to understand the cultural differences. It is considered to be a key element for maturity and can be used to enhance pronunciation to ELL. Souto (2009) found out that students had a nice ability to understand different cultures by reading multicultural novels.

Using cultural interaction and the idea of behaviorism we are able to conclude that the students were familiar with the fact that characters from non-dominant cultures functioned with a unique worldview that influenced their decisions, actions, and reactions (Grace, 2010).

The study shows that two-thirds of the students were able to relate to non-dominant groups when they were asked to assume the identity of a multicultural character found in one of the novels, which shows again that acceptance and understanding is taught and learned when practicing pronunciation.

Howard and Millar (2009) study show pronunciation a lesson that contains the multicultural theme helps students to better understand how people from backgrounds other than their own view the world.

In the research of the effect of behavior change on the pronunciation, indicated that pronunciation authenticity improved when subjects were administered by use of alcohol (Grace, 2010). It is believed to induce the optimal mental set with significant degree of muscle relaxation.

Gupta and Seyoum (2011) indicate that this mental set entails an enhancement of certain dimensions of the learner’s personality structure that was viewed as ego permeability that allow the learner to improve the pronunciation.

The significant key to initiate the change is to induce ego permeability that helps the ELL to overcome rigidity related to fears of appearing foolish. It also helps the ELL to deal with various kinds of stress that affect perceptible changes that are interpreted by others as change in personality (Souto, 2009).

Effect of pronunciation

The act of coaching English pronunciation has been neglected by various educationists. In very many countries all over the world, much effort has been invested toward training students on effective pronunciation skills. This is due to the fact that the mother-tongue has a strong influence on pronunciation of the English words.

Listening and speaking skills are now incorporated in the school curriculum and are taught to equip the learner with adequate communicative competence. At the primary, secondary and tertiary level in many countries, an English pronunciation course or English pronunciation as a component in the languages course is totally ignored.

Various teachers suggest that language pronunciation is not essential. It is then evident that teaching ELL pronunciations has been granted minor privileges in the school curriculum, thus, the teachers should strive at improving the language pronunciation in schools.

Yamashita (2011) asserts that an absence of the pronunciation from the school’s curriculum is a good indicator of the fact that the syllabus has ignored integration of pronunciation, and materials used to teach ELL do not usually be embodied into pronunciation components and lessons.

Howard and Millar (2009) indicates that the local materials developers are either unaware of the importance of pronunciation or not capable of designing pronunciation materials or follow the wrong syllabus to teach the pronunciations.

Specifically, Hang (2009) found that syllabus material with the theme of pronunciation enhancement helps ELL with special needs gain insight on how to join groups. Whereas these types of materials helped students without special needs become more aware of their problems, and learn about their classmates’ struggles to enhance pronunciation.


The enhancement of pronunciation is a very vital element of student learning and training skills. Pronunciation and spelling are complimentary, and thus in order to effectively spell words correctly, the students should have the ability to memorize the words. Pronunciation also varies from one bilingual environment to another and a student’s pronunciation is largely dependent on the ethnicity.

The students will have the ability to learn the pronunciations and meaning of new words effectively when they see spellings of the words during study periods than when they do not practice them.

The integration of pronunciation into the school syllabus will help to teach ELL pronunciation has shown to aid in students’ reading comprehension, aid in acceptance amongst students, provide therapy for students who are bullied, and teach students how to regulate their pronunciation.

The ELL must see how pronunciation intelligibility can be enhanced by techniques discussed under the literature review aimed at changing the pronunciation of ELL with different behaviorism traits. During the enhancement of pronunciation the change that occurs can be best understood by considering aspects of the relationship between internal, emotional or affective states of pronunciation.

In conclusion, the research assisted in finding out the reason why some teachers think that incorporating the pronunciation into the school curriculum is essential and will assist in the enhancement of pronunciation skills.


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Grace, Y., (2010). English Teacher Professionalism and Professional Development: Some Common Issues in Indonesia, Vol. 12, No.3, pp1 – Pp41

Gupta, D., Seyoum, G. W. (2011). The Influence of Motivation and Attitude on Writing Strategy Use of Undergraduate EFL Students: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives, Vol. 12, No.2, pp2-6.

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Howard, J. and Millar, S. (2009). Impacts of Vietnam’s Social Context on Learners’ Attitudes towards Foreign Languages and English Language Learning: Implications for Teaching and Learning, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp1-pp151.

Lin, L. (2010). English Learners’ Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition in the Video-based CALL Program: The linguistic journal, Vol. 12, No.2, Pp1 – Pp213.

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Sert, O. (2010). A Proposal for a CA-Integrated English Language Teacher Education: Program in Turkey, Vol. 12, No.3, Pp1 – Pp31.

Souto, M. (2009). Negotiating culturally responsive pedagogy through multicultural children’s literature: Towards critical democratic literacy practices in a first grade classroom. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9(1), 50-74.

Yamashita, Y. (2011). Second Language and Cognition: Conceptual Categorization of Count/Mass Nouns in English with Japanese University Students, Vol. 12, No.2, pp12- 20.

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