Pronunciation Assessment in the Context of World Englishes

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The globalization of English has initiated a debate of acceptability of competing norms, be they endonormative or exonormative (Davies, 1999; Gill, 1999). In WE’s view, exonormative orientations towards the native-speaker may be discriminatory against non-native speakers (NNS) of English, so it recommends a pluralized and pluricentric notion of world Englishes (Kachru, 1992). ELF’s standpoint, conversely, rejects native speaker norms in favor of endonormative realizations of lingua franca varieties. These normative issues are exacerbated, both theoretically and practically, in the context of language assessment. The chapter will begin by outlining the early WE conceptualizations of pronunciation through the model of understanding in cross-cultural communication (Smith, 1976). These conceptualizations will then be contrasted with more recent ELF views of mutual intelligibility among the Expanding Circle users, for which “phonological intelligibility” is the most important criterion (Jenkins, 2006a). The chapter will continue with a discussion of criticism of the current practices in language testing and assessment that claim that the field has failed to adopt the WE perspective and realistically represent the variation of pronunciation norms in international communication. In addressing these criticisms, the chapter will argue that embracing WE or ELF, particularly in relation to pronunciation, is a challenging task due to the existing constraints guiding the design of valid tests which accurately represent the domains of target language use (Elder & Harding, 2008). The chapter concludes that despite these constraints, strides have been made towards encompassing a WE perspective in test construction and task design, especially in listening and speaking tests, though the strides are not expected to result in radical changes in the current language testing practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAssessment in Second Language Pronunciation
EditorsOkim Kang, April Ginther
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)9781138856868
ISBN (Electronic)9781351692816
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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