Engaging the senses
A sensory-based approach to L2 pronunciation instruction for actors
This case study examined the benefits of a sensory-based approach for teaching second language pronunciation to actors, addressing the unique learning goal of nativelike speech for nonnative professional actors. Two French Canadian actors (Marianne and Sebastian) were followed over 10 weeks of pronunciation instruction based on Knight’s (2012) theatrical voice methods and Gibson’s (1969) principles of sensory learning. Audio samples from scripted performances before and after instruction were rated for global and linguistic measures by 10 linguistically trained listeners and for performance measures by 10 advanced acting students. Listener ratings showed a significant improvement in accentedness for Marianne and greater comprehensibility for both actors, while qualitative data revealed actors’ preferences for different types of instruction. Results suggest that sensory learning appears beneficial for some learners and that pronunciation instruction could be supplemented with sensory-based activities.
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