1. Rationale In the past few years, as the Vietnamese have come into contact with people from other countries, especially since Vietnam entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) and became one of twenty destinations of the world, there is a growing awareness of the importance of and need for communicative English. The emphasis in language teaching has changed to give spoken English the same status as written English, and the communicative language teaching is considered as a predominant approach in which teachers pay more attention to speaking and listening skills and need to perceive that these skills require not only vocabulary and ideas but also a reasonable pronunciation. Unfortunately, the outcome of communicative learning is not very satisfactory. Though they have learnt English at school and university, many students, especially non-English majors, often complain that it is really hard to communicate in English since they do not catch what the speakers are saying, and they are not confident to speak English. One of the reasons is their unintelligible pronunciation. Pronunciation plays an important role in second language teaching and learning. Without it, learners have many difficulties in getting their speech understood and understanding others’. Misunderstanding, communication breakdown or failure may occur due to mispronunciation. As a teacher of English at the University of Transport and Communications (UTC) for two years, the researcher has witnessed the great efforts made by her colleagues as well as students to improve the quality of teaching and learning English. As the teaching goals, all four language skills are equally focused in the teaching program which lasts three terms. Students are required to have good English for their next coming major studies, and for their further future. Whereas, it is undeniable that, among four skills, students get worse score at listening and speaking. In such the context, pronunciation teaching should be taken in appropriate consideration so that the teaching goals can be met. However, up to now there has not been any research on teaching English pronunciation at UTC yet. Thus, the case study of teaching pronunciation to first-year students at UTC is of special importance. It describes pronunciation teaching in the context, specifying the shortcomings and then making suggestions to improve the teaching of pronunciation. 2. Aims of the study The aim of the study was to investigate how the teachers at UTC teach pronunciation to first-year students, with the goal of making suggestions for the teachers to improve the teaching of pronunciation. 3. Research questions Focusing on a case with a target on non-English-major students at UTC, this research examined the teaching of pronunciation. To achieve this, three research questions were proposed: (1) What are the teachers’ beliefs in teaching pronunciation? (2) What elements of pronunciations are taught? (3) How do the teachers deal with teaching pronunciation? 4. Scope of the Study This study plays the role as a case study. The researcher intends to describe the current situation of pronunciation teaching in the context of first-year students at UTC. It provides rich information about the teachers’ beliefs in the issue, pronunciation elements to be taught in the curriculum, the ways the teachers use to treat pronunciation teaching. 5. Method of the Study A qualitative and quantitative methodology was selected for this case study. This involves the following methods: (1) Survey questionnaire (2) Interviews and discussions (3) Classroom observations (4) Curricula analysis The collected data come from 19 teachers of English at UTC, 57 classroom observations and the existing syllabus. Then the analysis is carried out in the light of finding out the answers to the research questions. 6. Organization of the study The study includes three parts: - Part 1, INTRODUCTION, introduces the rationale for the research, the aims of the study, the scope, the methods and the organization of the study. - Part 2, DEVELOPMENT, consists of three chapters as follows: -
Chapter 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
Chapter 2: METHODOLOGY -
Chapter 3: ANALYSIS, FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS - Part 3, CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS, summarizes some major findings, provides recommendations for teaching pronunciation, limitations of the study, and suggestions for further research.
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