Session 1A

Michael Burri

Session Title:
Creative Techniques for Teaching Conversational Rhythm

Teaching and learning of English rhythm is often a problematic area in second language (L2) classrooms. Many commercially published textbooks and contemporary frameworks advocate the teaching of rhythm cognitively, aurally or kinaesthetically. Few resources or techniques, however, assist L2 learners in transferring canonical (i.e. regular, grammar-based) rhythm to realistic conversational discourse. Consequently, canonical rhythm is usually practiced in isolation with little apparent effect on learners’ intelligibility.

This workshop presents three techniques that allow teachers to move beyond canonical rhythm techniques (e.g., jazz chants). That is, the techniques encompass a series of engaging steps to work with their students first on canonical rhythm and then to transfer the newly acquired principles to conversational rhythm. At the same time, the techniques have been shown to help learners improve their intelligibility and listening comprehension. The three techniques are part of an innovative, haptic (movement + touch) pronunciation teaching framework (Acton; 2015; Acton, Baker, Burri, & Teaman, 2013; Burri, Baker, & Acton, forthcoming) designed for native and non-native L2 instructors to incorporate pronunciation instruction successfully into their classrooms.

Following a brief overview of the theoretical underpinnings of the rhythm-oriented techniques and haptic pronunciation teaching, workshop participants are given a set of guidelines for each technique. Participants then experience and practice the rhythm techniques in small group settings.

Michael Burri is a PhD candidate in the School of Education at University of Wollongong. He taught English and conducted research in a variety of contexts in Australia, Canada and Japan over the past 16 years. Michael formerly chaired TESOL’s Speech, Pronunciation, Listening Interesting Section (2012-13), and his professional interests include pronunciation pedagogy, second language teacher education and contextualized pedagogy (particularly in Asian contexts). Michael maintains a website at www.michaelburri/ and he can be followed on Twitter @michaelburri