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  • Discourse intonation in L2: From theory and research to practice by Dorothy M. Chun
  • Timothy L. Face
Discourse intonation in L2: From theory and research to practice. By Dorothy M. Chun. (Language learning and language teaching 1.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002. Pp. xvii, 285. ISBN 1588111695. $43.95.

A unique contribution to the literature on teaching pronunciation in L2, this book uses the research done over the years on intonation, and particularly on discourse intonation, as a starting point for a discussion of how to teach discourse intonation in L2.

Part 1 examines theoretical studies of intonation in L1. It begins with a general discussion of intonation, suprasegmentals, and prosody, including definitions of these terms, the phonetic and acoustic basis of suprasegmentals, other dimensions of prosody, and the perceptual aspects of intonation (Ch. 1). Following this introductory material, the focus is on the different theories of intonation that have been proposed in previous research, including the contour approach, Dwight Bolinger’s theory of pitch accent, the levels approach, generative approaches, and discourse approaches (Ch. 2). This portion of Part 1 is a truly outstanding overview of the different theories of intonation. But on top of providing excellent coverage of the various theories and the approaches that each has taken in analyzing intonation, the material is presented clearly and in amanner that makes it accessible to readers who are not experts on intonation. Part 1 concludes with a discussion of the meaning and function of intonation (Ch. 3). The broader categories of intonational function considered are its grammatical functions, attitudinal/emotional functions, discourse functions, and sociolinguistic functions.

Part 2 examines applied linguistic research, looking at intonation in L2. Its two chapters provide a historical account of the development of research agendas in L2 intonation and of approaches to teaching intonation in L2. It begins by considering structuralism and the first attempts at teaching intonation (Ch. 4). Some of the issues considered here are the goals of pronunciation teaching, constraints on the mastery of pronunciation, factors in L2 phonological acquisition, and transfer from L1. Part 2 continues by considering the current state of research, focusing on communicative proficiency and discourse intonation (Ch. 5). In the discussion of second language acquisition research and applied linguistic research, the section on integrating technology into research and instruction is of special interest. It is suggested that learners can benefit by being provided with visualizations of intonation patterns and with authentic and extensive speech. The discussion also includes the current state of the relevant technology as well as ways that software design can further aid in teaching intonation in L2.

Part 3 provides a practical component, focusing on how to teach discourse intonation in L2. It begins with the teaching of stress and rhythm (Ch. 6) and progresses to the teaching of intonation at the discourse level (Ch. 7). The examples of exercises that could be used in teaching the most important aspects of discourse intonation are particularly useful. They will aid any teacher teaching pronunciation in L2, regardless of the language being taught. The ideas given are easily transferable to many different languages.

Timothy L. Face
University of Minnesota


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