Making the Case for Brain-friendly Pronunciation Instruction

Publication Name

RELC Journal


A growing empirical research base has contributed substantially to our understanding of pronunciation instruction. A contemporary perspective entails a balanced approach featuring both the teaching of segmentals (vowels and consonants) and suprasegmentals (stress, rhythm, and intonation) while favoring intelligible (i.e. clear) pronunciation as the pedagogical goal rather than the attainment of native-like pronunciation. Yet, the connection between neuroscience and pronunciation instruction has not been explored in depth so far. Thus, the aim of this article is to further the process of bringing insights from neuroscience into pronunciation teaching and learning. I first explore several interconnected neuroscientific principles that are relevant to pronunciation, including the social brain, emotions, movement, and touch, and then conclude the article by describing a ‘brain-friendly’ approach that reflects a number of those principles: haptic pronunciation instruction.

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