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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

The Effects of Auditory Discrimination and Content Shift on Oral Proficiency in Non-native English Speakers

This study examines the oral proficiency of ELF speakers who move to an English-speaking environment. In the 2009/2010 academic year, American colleges and universities enrolled 690,923 international students. In 2008/2009, 113,494 scholars taught and conducted research at American institutions (Institute of International Education, 2011). Consequently, much interaction in educational environments is between native and non-native English speakers. A core principle of ELF education is to teach an English pronunciation system that maximizes intelligibility between non-native speakers. However, this same pronunciation system may hinder communication with native speakers (Jenkins, 2000). Non-native English speakers have widely varying levels of English oral proficiency in native-speaker contexts. For students, oral proficiency affects collaboration with peers and learning resources, including teachers. For faculty and teaching assistants, oral proficiency affects successful communication with students. Seventy-four percent of American undergraduates disagree that international faculty cannot be effective due to language barriers. However, 51% agree that it is difficult to understand course material taught by international faculty (Constantinou, Bajracharya, and Baldwin, 2011). Educational institutions have an obligation to integrate non-native speakers by improving their oral proficiency. Previous research has examined the effects of syntax on non-native speaker intelligibility in international and co-national contexts (Roberts, 2008). Our pilot study tests the auditory discrimination skills and articulation and intonation in discourse in native Mandarin speakers in the American higher education community. Preliminary analysis suggests that auditory discrimination skills and topic of conversation predict a speakerís oral proficiency in communication contexts with native speakers.

Presenter: Julie Balazs (Ithaca College) --
Topic: Social Work - Poster Session
Location: Edwards Hall Lobby
Time: 10:30 am (Session II)