Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-Based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research by T.M. Derwing & M.J. Munro (review)
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T.M. Derwing & M.J. Munro ( 2016). Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-Based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Pp. xiii + 208., $143 (hardcover); $49.95 (paper / e-book).

In Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-Based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research, Tracey Derwing and Murray Munro provide a comprehensive overview of the field of L2 pronunciation that is informed by decades of hands-on classroom practice and groundbreaking research. Starting from the acknowledgement that most adult second language (L2) learners will speak their L2s with a foreign accent, the authors present a wealth of evidence to support their conclusion that speaking intelligibly is a realistic goal for L2 learners. The book provides researchers and teachers with research findings that provide insights into why, when, and how to target pronunciation.

Derwing and Munro have established themselves as trailblazers in second language pronunciation research and teaching, and this volume is the culmination of their work. Their dedication to the field began early in their careers, when their experiences as linguistics students and ESL teachers instilled in them a curiosity about the best ways to encourage adult ESL learners to communicate more successfully. Their research expertise and classroom practice have provided them with tools to critically examine the assumptions, methodologies, and findings underlying foundational studies, current research, and a range of classroom practices.

In the first chapter, readers are provided with key concepts and findings that ensure understanding and establish a foundation for the rest of the book. After presenting an historical overview of the field in chapter 2, Derwing and Munro proceed in chapter 3 to focus on phonetic acquisition, highlighting the factors that affect L2 learners' ultimate attainment. They then turn their attention to the notion of pronunciation errors in chapter 4, emphasizing the finding that certain errors have a greater impact than others on speech intelligibility. The focus of chapter 5 is pronunciation instruction, and the authors emphasize that [End Page 418] the ultimate goal of both research and teaching in the field should be intelligible L2 speech. They devote attention to assessment in chapter 6 and highlight the need for gaining an understanding of students' pronunciation needs so that pronunciation instruction can be focused on those areas in which students would benefit most from training. In chapter 7, Derwing and Munro concentrate on the ways in which technology can be successfully exploited to target perception and production. Central to chapter 8 on the social aspects of accent is the acknowledgement that there are consequences of speaking with an accent. Importantly, the chapter also focuses on the roles played both by an L2 learner's willingness to communicate (WTC) and an interlocutor's knowledge about accents and attitude in successful communication. The penultimate chapter offers a critical analysis of the field of "accent reduction," while in the final chapter, Derwing and Munro offer several ideas for future work in research, teaching, assessment, and technology.

Central themes of the book include the value of quality interactions in the target language for the development of successful oral communication skills, the need for evidence-based training for pronunciation instructors, an acknowledgement of variability and diverse developmental trajectories among learners, and the importance of individualized assessment and instruction. The authors deal with difficult questions regarding the role of non-native speakers in teaching pronunciation and do not shy away from controversial topics such as the ethics of accent reduction and the role of pronunciation in identity maintenance.

Highlights include step-by-step instructions for classroom-based pronunciation research and useful resources for assessment as well as classroom materials selection and development. The accompanying website offers recommendations for further reading, questions that challenge readers to think critically about the results of research and classroom practice, and ideas for practical activities that can be used to spark classroom discussions. Also included on the website is an extended glossary.

The greatest strength of the book is its evidence-based approach. With research findings as their starting point, Derwing and Munro advocate for research-informed practice. In doing so, they arm their readers with the tools they can use to critically evaluate materials and research findings and successfully study and teach...