May 25, 2024

The use of twitter and Youglish for the learning and retention of commonly mispronounced English words

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Although there is an increasing interest in educational microblogging and findings regarding its effectiveness on the language learning, relevant research, especially on the use of microblogging for the learning of pronunciation, is rather limited. This issue becomes even more apparent in countries like Turkey where English is taught as a foreign language and there is considerable number of words commonly mispronounced by Turkish language learners including pre-service language teachers. The present paper reports on the findings of a study into the effects of the social networking site Twitter and Youglish on the learning and retention of commonly mispronounced words. Twitter, a microblogging tool, was used for explicit instruction and input enhancement for the words by capitalizing of stressed syllables, providing links to authentic talks, stressing the problematic features of the target words, and showing other pronunciation-related familiar words. Youglish was used to utilize the tenets of extensive listening and input enhancement. Tweets aimed at drawing direct attention to the pronunciation of each word. In each tweet, a link to Youglish was provided as an attempt to foster pronunciation learning in context. Additionally, this study examines the attitudes towards pronunciation and views on the use of Twitter and Youglish for pronunciation instruction. Following an experimental group only design (pre, post, and retention tests), the study was conducted with 93 pre-service teachers studying at the English Language Teacher Education (ELTE) program of a large-scale university in Turkey. The data were gathered via a Pronunciation Attitude Inventory, a pronunciation test, and an open-ended survey. Seventy target words were determined after a four-week observation and note taking of commonly mispronounced words by teacher trainers and these target words were sent in 70 tweets, one word in each tweet. The tweets for each word included a link to Youglish, a Youtube-based pronunciation dictionary. Descriptive statistics and ANOVA tests were run for the analysis of the quantitative data and content analysis for the open-ended survey. The results indicated that the use of Twitter and Youglish together to teach pronunciation served an important role in learning and retaining commonly mispronounced words. The views of the pre-service teachers support the findings that they benefitted from the adopted approach. Findings from this study have strengthened the evidence supporting the impact of Twitter (supported by Youglish) for pronunciation instruction. The study also offers implications for leaners, teachers, and policy makers.

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