The Effectiveness of Explicit Pedagogical Intervention in the L2 Perception and Production of German Vowels
The purpose of this study was twofold. Firstly, this study sought to capture second semester language students’ auditory perception of German vowels. Secondly, this study sought to investigate the effectiveness of direct pronunciation instruction in enhancing learners’ perception and consequent production of German vowels. Vowels were selected to be analyzed in this study, as they are the nucleus of words (Derwing, Thomson, Foote, & Munro, 2012). Front rounded vowels in German were given particular attention, as they do not exist in English, and they frequently pose as a challenge for native English-speakers to learn (O’Brien & Fagan, 2016, Hall, 2003).
This study was conducted at a large midwestern U.S. university. The project consisted of 47 participants which were divided into experimental and control groups. Throughout the duration of the study, students were administered a biographical survey, and a pre- and post-test which consisted of a listening identification exercise and speaking assessment. Participants in the test group were also offered a lesson on the German phonemic system as it relates to German vowels. Upon the completion of the study, the data analyzed did not yield any significant results. Students’ scores on the perception and production exercises taken from both the pre- and post-tests remained largely stagnant. This was true for the test scores taken from the experimental and control groups. Though the study outcomes did not produce the hypothesized results, they do underscore the need for long-term explicit pronunciation instruction in the language classroom.