Term

Summer 2017

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAESL

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Betsy Parrish

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Suzanne McCurdy

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Sara Nash

Abstract

My study sought explore the relationship between an adult Somali EL’s ability to notice the difference between the allophonic split of /b/ and /p/ in two-letter syllable minimal pairs and each participant’s ability to pronounce the same minimal pairs. I also explored whether the use of color photos in targeted pronunciation instruction was significant in improving noticing and pronunciation ability. I conducted a quasi-experimental study using the framework of Schmidt’s noticing theory, and his definition of focal awareness, in a one-time session with two treatment groups; one group utilized the independent variable, color photos of minimal pairs. I conducted a pre-assessment, data collection tool one; a targeted pronunciation instruction session with qualitative notes, data collection tool two; and a post-assessment, data collection tool three. The six participants were adult, female, Somali ELs with CASAS ESL levels ranging from level 2 to 6. The results from the study did not explicitly demonstrate a definite relationship between noticing and pronunciation, at least in this one-time session. However, my qualitative notes provided a strong indication of each participant’s noticing of the phonemic contrast during the pronunciation instruction. The results indicated that the color photos used in treatment group B did improve noticing and pronunciation ability with that group. Implications of my study demonstrate the importance of visual and tactile aids with pronunciation instruction with lowliterate ELs, along with the need for further research with this group of ELs. I am putting a call out to future graduate students to use my study as an inspiration to conduct future studies with the Somali population, particularly in MN where we have a large population of Somali people.

Research Methodology

quasi-experimental

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