Supporting EFL learners with a Virtual Environment: A Focus on L2 Pronunciation

Jacqueline Aiello, Anna Mongibello

Abstract


The article discusses a pilot project that explored the implementation of a virtual environment for the improvement of English pronunciation, funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) as part of a wider e-learning program for Higher Education. A speech recognition software program, SpeechAce, was embedded within the e-learning course to provide live practice and feedback on pronunciation to 372 undergraduate students at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” in 2016-2017. The project team was composed by Professors of English Oriana Palusci and Katherine E. Russo, who designed and coordinated the project, and e-tutors Jacqueline Aiello and Anna Mongibello, who generated the online course on Moodle and monitored students’ activities. The virtual class was created to foster awareness of English sounds and to practice pronunciation, an area that is often neglected in the Italian education system due to the large number of enrolled students. This paper first describes the project in depth and draws on the quantitative analysis of the students’ performance in combination with authentic online listening input. Then, data collected in pre- and post-program questionnaires are analyzed to examine the impact of participation in the online project on self-perceived pronunciation proficiency and L2 self-confidence, and to unveil participants’ opinions and experiences in this virtual environment.

Keywords


Higher Education; English as a foreign language; L2 Pronunciation; Learning Management Systems; Voice Recognition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.20368/1971-8829/1444



Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society | ISSN (online) 1971 - 8829 | ISSN (paper) 1826 - 6223 © 2017 Je-LKS - Italian e-Learning Association (SIe-L).