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Intonation and Stress as Discourse Structuring Devices in International Students’ Oral Presentations Michael Cribb Dept. of English and Language 29th June.

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Presentation on theme: "Intonation and Stress as Discourse Structuring Devices in International Students’ Oral Presentations Michael Cribb Dept. of English and Language 29th June."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intonation and Stress as Discourse Structuring Devices in International Students’ Oral Presentations Michael Cribb Dept. of English and Language 29th June 2012

2 Abstract: Oral presentations are a common form of assessment at university level and include a performance aspect where students are under pressure to deliver academic monologues to audiences in real-time; unlike an essay, say, which is mostly concerned with content. For international students, the burden of performing under such conditions means that their English language is tested to the extremes. In particular, East Asian students have problems in delivering natural- sounding monologues and often rely on scripted deliveries. This means that intonation and stress, which are important features for segmenting monologues into manageable chunks and establishing hierarchical relationships between parts, are often under-specified, leading to the talk being perceived by the audience as ‘flat’, undifferentiated and even monotonous. In addition, students might only receive minimal feedback on their performance in the form of a mark and a few notes from the tutor which limits their capacity to learn and improve on a skill that is difficult to acquire naturally without intervention. The proposed paper will present some samples of discourse from international students delivering oral monologues and will discuss how miscues in intonation and stress (which are prosodic features) lead to incoherence and a loss in meaning. The paper will also analyse students’ reactions to delivering oral presentations through the analysis of a series of pre- and post-task interviews conducted with students. This will highlight some of the intervention strategies tutors can enable to improve feedback to students and develop remedial work.

3 Contents 1. Background 2. Research Questions 3. Consistency and Contrast 4. Pedagogical Implications

4 1. BACKGROUND

5 Oral presentations Value & significance for students Less support from interlocutor Elicits monologic discourse NNSs often stigmatized

6 Text-structuring Metadiscourse Devices and Intonation Cues Thompson (2003) has suggested that lengthy monologues require control over the use of text- structuring metadiscourse devices and intonation cues in order for the listener to understand the larger-scale ‘hierarchical organisation’ of the discourse. … For international students who are not native speakers of English, the lack of control over the use of these organisational devices means that their monologues are often perceived as flat and undifferentiated (Tyler & Bro, 1992) by the audience.

7 2. RESEARCH QUESTIONS

8 Research Questions 1. Do students of English exhibit a narrower pitch range when making oral presentations compared to ‘experienced’ presenters (i.e. native lecturers)? 2. Do Chinese students exhibit a narrower pitch range compared to European students? – H1: Chinese students will exhibit a narrow pitch range compared to European students

9 Participants & task 22 students of English. 20 Chinese; 22 European Module: Advanced English for Business and management. UG 3 rd year min. oral presentation in group Target students recorded with clip-on microphone & voice recorder Discourse transcribed; analysed using SIL Speech Analyser software

10 1. Do students of English exhibit a narrower pitch range when making oral presentations compared to ‘expert’ presenters (i.e. native lecturers)? SD 1 PDQ 2 Students * Lecturers * Reduced pitch range for signaling the organization of their discourse 1: standard deviation 2:pitch dynamism quotient (Hincks 2004) 3. Engineering Lecture Corpus (Nesi) *P<0.001

11 Student vs Lecturer (10.WU vs ELC1) 10.WU ELC1

12 2. Do Chinese students exhibit a narrower pitch range compared to European students? – H1: Chinese students will exhibit a narrow pitch range compared to European students

13 Long-term Distributional (LTD) measures (see Mennen et al, 2012) N Mean f0 SDSD3Range (max- min f0) PDQ90% span 80% span Skew Kurtosis European Chinese ALL Mennen, I., Schaeffler, F. & Docherty, G. (2012). Cross-language difference in f0 range: a comparative study of English and German. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131 (3),

14 Mann-Whitney U-tests for LTD measures MeasureUZsig. (2-tailed)Effect size (r) Mean f SD SD Range (max- min f0) PDQ % span % span Skew Kurtosis *0.576 Pitch dynamism quotient (Hincks)

15 – H1: Chinese students will exhibit a narrow pitch range compared to European students Not true! There are no observed differences between Chinese and European students (except for Kurtosis)

16 3. CONSISTENCY AND CONTRAST

17 Consistency & Contrast Can a student use a reduced pitch range but still be an effective communicator? – 7.SIM: Lowest PDQ (0.73) but idiosyncratic style may help

18 Use of upspeak (7.SIM) | in ↗CONtrary | | (0.4 er) →addiDAS | | addidas is a GERman ↗COMPany | | (0.5) FOUnded in NINEteen forty ↗EIGHT| | (0.6) and er NAME come from the NAME of the↘↗ FOUnder of this company | | (0.6) and er the NAME is CREATE from (.) ↗ADI | | and LAST three letters from his ↘SURname create all the name |

19 Paratones – ‘spoken paragraph’ At end of paratone: – fall in pitch – lengthening of speech and insertion of pauses – laryngealisation (creaky voice) and /or loss of amplitude At start of new paratone – marked pause – first tone unit raised in key – high key evident in subsequent tone units creating declination Thompson (2003); (McAlear, 2008)

20 ROM1

21 I’m going to talk about the the different er effect of the globalisations the first is er cultural the most famous example is Americanisations we can xx for example like music the American music er dominate the world market the movies of which fifty percent of the of all movies now showing in Europe er are American

22 and the (proportions) rise to er eighty percent in Germany or England and finally the export of major global brands for example in clothes industry like er Nike or xx and in food industry like McDonalds or Coca Cola er technology the global telecommunication infrastructure which permits greater xx xx exchange

23 Actual structure is… Globalisation – Cultural Example: Americanisation – Music – Movies – Export of brands – Technology (but the prosody does not signal this well >> ‘flat, undifferentiated discourse’)

24 PIE1

25 so first of all I gonna speak about the place of birth the ethnicity and the religion so you have to know that the interviewer can ask you if you have a correct work place to legally work in u-k but interviewer are not entitled to to ask you about your place of birth your ethnicity your religion about your personal history they can't do that (5.5) erm okay so now I'm gonna speak about about marital status the children and the sexual preference so about the marital status the interviewer are a bit er not not really fair because they shouldn't take any preference but they often do

26

27 16.CHEN_A | and the third point is the (pro- provide) the battery rail CAR | | in the tourist er PLACE | | ↗because er it can (protect) animal |

28 4. PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS

29 Consistency & Contrast Consistency – Use of pitch, pausing and discourse marking needs to be consistently applied over the whole of the presentation Contrast – Use of pitch, pausing and discourse marking needs to be contrastive to segment the talk into hierarchical units

30 A narrow pitch range may not necessarily be a burden on the audience if the student can deploy consistent and contrastive intonation patterns that are explicitly marked

31 Suggestions for teachers Pro-active intervention strategies Students need ‘targeted’ assistance with intonation in presentations In particular, Chinese students are going through university ‘under the radar’ Remedial classes

32 RTPitch

33 References Barr, P. (1990). The role of discourse intonation in lecture comprehension. In M. Hewings (Ed.), Papers in Discourse Intonation (pp. 5–21). Birmingham, UK: University of Birmingham, English Language Research. Foster, P., Tonkyn, A. & Wigglesworth, G. (2000) Measuring Spoken Language: A unit for all reasons. Applied Linguistics, 21(3), Hincks, R (2004) Processing the prosody of oral presentations. Proceedings of InSTIL/ICALL2004 – NLP and Speech Technologies in Advanced Language Learning Systems – Venice June, 2004 Nesi, H. The recordings and transcriptions used in this study come from the Engineering Lecture Corpus (ELC), which was developed at Coventry University under the directorship of Hilary Nesi with contributions from ELC partner institutions. Corpus development was assisted by funding from the British Council (RC 90) April August McAlear, S (2008) Unpublished MA Dissertation. Univ of Nottingham Mennen, I., Schaeffler, F. & Docherty, G. (2012). Cross-language difference in f0 range: a comparative study of English and German. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131 (3), Pickering, L. (2004) The structure and function of intonational paragraphs in native and nonnative speaker instructional discourse. English for Specific Purposes; Jan2004, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p19, 25p Thompson, S.E. (2003) Text-structuring metadiscourse, intonation and the signalling of organisation in academic lectures. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2, pp Tyler, A. & Bro, J. (1992) Discourse Structure in Nonnative English Discourse: The effect of ordering and interpretive cues on perceptions of comprehensibility. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 14(1),


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