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Department of Applied Linguistics Seminar Series: Martha Pennington

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building

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The Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication invites you to our Seminar Series.

Speaker: Martha C. Pennington, SOAS.

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Learning and Teaching Pronunciation: A Historical Perspective on Theory and Practice

The presentation offers a historical perspective on learning and teaching pronunciation showing both continuing trends and changes over time in theory and practice in research, pedagogy, and testing. The historical overview highlights shifting views of language and of learning and how these changed views played out in second language acquisition (SLA) and pronunciation theory and practice. Key themes arising involve language universals and critical period, interlanguage and mother tongue transfer, fluency and accuracy, communicative competence and focus on form, identity and agency, and technologies. The historical review suggests that SLA has advanced its understandings and methodologies for pronunciation research, pedagogy, and testing within a conception of pronunciation based on an idealized target-language standard of native-speaker competence. A major issue in the current era is how to align this foundational conception of second language acquisition in general and pronunciation theory and practice in particular with the increasingly dominant theoretical and practical orientations to multilingualism and plurilingualism in education and applied linguistics.

Martha C. Pennington (PhD Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania) is a well-known researcher and teacher educator in applied linguistics with special interests in phonology, writing, and bilingualism. She has a long affiliation with the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, since her time in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the University of Bedfordshire (formerly Luton), where she founded a Language Research Centre and held the position of Powdrill Professor of English Language Acquisition. She also has a long affiliation with the English Department of City University of Hong Kong, where she was a Professor in the early 1990s and again in 2012-14. Recent papers include (among others) one on second language phonology (in J. A. Mompean & J. Fouz, eds., Investigating English Pronunciation: Current Trends and Directions, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), one on teacher identity in language teaching (co-authored with Jack C. Richards; v. 47.1, RELC Journal, 2016), and one on creativity in composition (in R. Jones, ed., Routledge Handbook of Language and Creativity, 2016). Professor Pennington is currently working on a textbook on multilingualism for Wiley-Blackwell, a university-level writing textbook (with Theresa M. Welford) for Equinox, and a book on teaching and researching phonology in applied linguistics (with Pamela Rogerson-Revell) for Palgrave Macmillan.

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