Using visual feedback to improve L2 pronunciation in ESP courses

Brenda Imber, Carson Maynard, Aaron Ohlrogge, and Yung-Hui Chien
University of Michigan
Using Visual Feedback to Improve L2 Pronunciation
This paper presents the results of a study investigating whether the use of
computer-assisted visual feedback significantly improves the accuracy of segmental
and suprasegmental production among L2 pronunciation learners. For the purposes of
this study, the authors selected a software program, Praat, which provides visual as
well as aural feedback, to compare with a standard audio recording program,
Microsoft Sound Recorder, which provides aural feedback only.
A group of 41 non-native English speakers (NNS) recorded six sentences in
English containing formulaic expressions, which are known to have distinct
intonational patterns (Wray 2002). These recordings were made at the beginning and
end of a six-week period, during which participants attended weekly one-hour
sessions and completed homework assignments to increase their proficiency in using
the software to record, analyze and monitor their pronunciation. An experimental
group using Praat was trained to use visual feedback in the form of spectrograms,
waveforms and pitch contours, while a control group using Microsoft Sound Recorder
was trained to use auditory feedback only. The pre- and post-test recordings were then
randomized and scored by professional ESL oral assessors, blind to treatment type
and time of recording. Experimental subjects showed significant improvement
compared to control subjects in assessment of their intelligibility and intonation.
Results indicate that the use of visual feedback, even over a short period of time,
produces greater pronunciation improvement than techniques using only aural