Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Sharif University of Technology, Iran

2 Islamic Azad University, Garmsar Branch, Semnan, Iran

Abstract

The field of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) has recently witnessed a renewed interest in pronunciation; nevertheless, this interest has been mostly directed toward pronunciation instruction even though learners’ instructional gains are heavily dependent on their attitudes and motivations. Thus, this study aimed to examine the construct validity of learners’ attitudes and motivations for pronunciation (LAMP) inventory in Iranian EFL academic context and investigate Iranian EFL learners’ attitudes and motivations regarding teaching and learning English pronunciation. Accordingly, the LAMP inventory was administered to 364 Iranian English-major undergraduates. The result of confirmatory factor analysis showed that the 8-factor LAMP model fit the Iranian EFL context. In terms of English-major learners’ attitudes, findings revealed that although they had highly positive cognitive and conative attitudes toward pronunciation instruction, they were heavily influenced by negative affective filters acting as a hindrance to their progress. Regarding motivations, English-major learners were mostly influenced by intrinsic and curiosity drives. Nevertheless, contrary to some previous findings, the majority of the respondents showed integrativeness and strove for native-like pronunciation. Therefore, the results imply that syllabus designers and instructors for English-major learners need to place stronger emphasis on pronunciation instruction via challenging, meaning-oriented tasks and computerized methodologies.

Keywords

1. Introduction

The past few decades have observed revitalized attention to teaching and learning English as second/foreign language (L2) pronunciation. This regained prominence is mostly because having an intelligible L2 speech is regarded as a crucial skill for L2 learners to engage in effective communication (Thomson & Derwing, 2015). Pronunciation plays a key role in spoken interaction, in predicting what will come next, in filling in the gaps in comprehension, and in forming ongoing hypotheses about the overall meaning in communication (Celce-Murica, Brinton, Goodwin, & Griner, 2010). Although it is clear that pronunciation should play an important role in any L2 curriculum, its instruction is mostly marginalized in the English as a foreign language (EFL) context, especially in academic syllabuses tailored for English-major learners (Buss, 2016).  The reason might be lack of empirical studies on pronunciation training and accordingly pedagogical ways to be used by English syllabus designers and instructors in academic settings or the outdated belief in the impossibility of successful pronunciation training (Buss, 2016; Pennington, 2019); another reason might also be the irrelevance of native-like accuracy in the EFL context and the adequacy of intelligibility per se (Jenkins, 2005).

Recently, given the crucial role of accurate and intelligible pronunciation in L2 interaction, numerous studies have been conducted showing that L2 English pronunciation instruction is effective and can lead to more accurate and intelligible productions by the learners (e.g., Hamada, 2018; Lee, Plonsky, & Saito, 2020; Pennington, 2019; Tabandeh, Moinzadeh, & Barati, 2019; Tsang, 2019). Nevertheless, the role of psychological factors including, attitudes and motivations, behind such advancements in EFL pronunciation proficiency has been comparatively underresearched (Brown, 2014; Szyszka, 2016). According to Thomson and Derwing (2015) and Kang (2015), it seems that teachers and learners generally prefer to reach a native-like rather than internationally acceptable pronunciation performance in ESL contexts. Several reasons have been introduced for placing such a significance on pronunciation in ESL contexts. For example, Foote, Holtby and, Derwing (2011) maintain that a foreign accent can act as a filter through which ESL speakers are treated differently with discriminations. 

In terms of the EFL context, however, mixed results have been reported by the few studies conducted on the perceptions of teachers and learners regarding English pronunciation. For example, whereas Buss (2016) has reported that Brazilian EFL teachers strived for native-like pronunciation performance, Tergujeff (2013) and Sardegna, Lee and Kusey (2015) have observed that EFL learners in language institutes and high schools, respectively, are not particularly interested in achieving highly proficient English pronunciation performance. Such a lack of interest in EFL learners in achieving high levels of pronunciation accuracy runs counter to the fact that pronunciation accuracy is used as one of the main proficiency indicators in international English language tests such as IELTS and TOEFL (Iwashita, Brown, McNamara, & O’Hagan, 2008).

As went above, few studies have focused on the psychological side of English pronunciation instruction in the ESL context in general and the EFL context in particular. The Iranian EFL context is not an exception. It seems that in spite of the importance of pronunciation in accurate and intelligible EFL performance on the one hand and the significance of acquiring great English proficiency for English-major university students as preservice English teachers and interpreters on the other, the perceptions and motivations of Iranian English-major learners regarding teaching and learning English pronunciation have been gone unnoticed in Iranian EFL research. Therefore, this study set to investigate the attitudes and motivations of Iranian English-major learners with regards to the role and importance of teaching and learning English pronunciation in proficient and communicatively successful EFL performance.

 

2. Literature Review

The role of affective factors in successful L2 learning has increasingly drummed up the interest of L2 researchers and practitioners. Among L2 affective variables, attitudes and motivations have captured the most attention. One of the earliest robust works in this regard was Gardner’s (1985) attitude and motivation test battery. According to Gardner (1985), attitudes refer to evaluative beliefs and emotional reactions to language groups, language learning, and the learning situation. Likewise, Eagly and Chaiken (1993) defined attitude as “a psychological tendency which is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor” (p. 1).

Sardegna et al. (2015) state that most studies on ESL/EFL learners’ attitudes have focused on L1-L2 reading attitudes and drawn mostly on Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) model. According to this model, the attitude has three main components: the cognitive component, the affective component, and the conative component. The cognitive domain represents learners’ beliefs about learning and includes perceived linguistic, intellectual, and practical values; the affective domain includes feelings and emotions learners have toward the learning experience; the conative domain reflects learners’ tendencies to act and behave appropriately to reach their learning goals (Campos, 2011).   

In the domain of English pronunciation, research has exclusively focused on non-English-major learners (i.e., learning English for general or EAP/ESP purposes in institutes or universities) centering either on their attitudes toward native-like accent (e.g., Jenkins, 2005; Tokumoto & Shibata, 2011) or on the relationship between attitudes and pronunciation accuracy (e.g., Moyer, 2007). For example, in the East Asian context, Tokumoto and Shibata (2011) surveyed the attitudes of EFL learners toward their L1-accented speech. Interestingly, they found that whereas Malaysian EFL learners valued their L1-accented English, Japanese and Korean learners strived for English-native accents. They further concluded that such differential attitudes could be the result of various socio-political and historical backgrounds. Regarding the ESL context, Moyer (2007) observed that positive attitudes to English language and culture were a determining factor for immigrant learners of English in the United States to brush up their pronunciation accuracy and approximate English native-like accent. 

Another related attitudinal construct is self-efficacy defined as learners’ beliefs on their own capabilities to organize and do actions to reach particular goals (Meigouni & Shirkhani, 2020). Research shows that L2 learners’ level of self-efficacy beliefs affects their emotional reactions, learning behavior, the use of strategy, and their positive attitudes in task-based language learning (Pyun, 2013). Likewise, learners with higher self-efficacy capacities have been found to be more efficient in performing language task tasks (Tseng, Liu, & Nix, 2017). Nevertheless, studies into the relationship between self-efficacy and L2 language learning success have mostly focused on other language skills rather than on pronunciation; furthermore, the field of ESL/EFL pronunciation lacks an updated, comprehensive and EFL-inventory on attitudes and motivations (Sardegna et al., 2015).

Gardner’s (1985) battery also includes motivation as another psychological variable dichotomized into two different constructs: integrative motivation (e.g., I want to learn English because I want to communicate easily with English native speakers and have native friends) and instrumental motivation (e.g., I want to learn English because I should pass my English exam in the university). In the former, learners have favorable attitudes to L2 culture and are eager to become an accepted member of the community. Nevertheless, the concept of integrativeness in the EFL context has been questioned on both empirical (Pae, 2008) and theoretical basis (Ushioda, 2006). As an example, Ryan (2006) argues that Gardner’s view of integrativeness is mostly useful in ESL contexts in which there is a particular target group of native speakers, rather than in EFL contexts wherein there is no specific target L2 culture and L2 native speakers. Thus, recent studies have mostly associated this concept with learners’ general interest in L2 culture and tendency to meet L2 native friends (e.g., Dornyei, 2005). The second construct in Gardner’s (1985) motivation is instrumental motivation which includes learners’ practical and utilitarian reasons for learning another language.

In a replay to some vagueness surrounding Gardner’s theory, Noels, Pelletier, Clement, and Vallerand (2000) introduced Self-Determination Theory (SDT) into the psychology of L2 learning. Their version of motivational drives consists of two main constructs of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Whereas the former is defined as “the motivation to engage in an activity because that activity is enjoyable and satisfying to do” (p. 61), the latter is “the actions carried out to achieve some instrumental end, such as earning an award or avoiding punishment” (p. 61). Indeed, a careful look at Gardner’s instrumental motivation and Noels et al.’s (2000) extrinsic motivation shows that they are highly related. Up to now, research in the EFL context has yielded mixed results in this regard: some findings (e.g., Warden & Lin, 2000, in Taiwanese EFL context; Chen, Warden, & Chang, 2005, in Chinese EFL setting) have revealed that extrinsic motivations are stronger in EFL contexts, while some others have voted in favor of intrinsic motivations in EFL contexts (e.g., Pae, 2008).

As for ESL/EFL phonological aspects, general findings have shown that both integrative and instrumental motivations together with learners’ tendency to sound like English native speakers play a major role in learners’ endeavors to learn pronunciation features (e.g., Moyer, 2007). In terms of intrinsic/extrinsic dichotomy, however, pronunciation researchers have recently evinced interest. One of the major studies is conducted by Smith (2002) in the European EFL context in which he surveyed the motivations of Austrian EFL learners. He found correlational relations among challenge, fun, curiosity, and love for learning as intrinsic drives and among attaining native-like accent, vocational goals, and enhanced classroom performance as extrinsic drives.

In a seminal attempt to single out attitudinal and motivational constructs for L2 pronunciation for EFL contexts, Sardegna et al. (2015) developed and validated the learners’ attitudes and motivations for pronunciation (LAMP) inventory. They conducted a thorough exploratory factor analysis and ended up with four components for attitudes and four components for motivations regarding EFL learners’ pronunciation learning. As for the former, they extracted cognitive, conative, negative affect, and self-efficacy components; as for the latter, they extracted integrative, intrinsic, extrinsic, and curiosity components. Meanwhile, they observed that Korean EFL learners generally had more extrinsic drives behind their learning English pronunciation and showed low levels of positive attitudes toward this aspect of language. This finding adds up to the mixed results of already conducted studies in the EFL context because as some have revealed positive attitudes and integrative inclinations in EFL learners (e.g., Pae, 2008), others have shown stronger extrinsic motivations with lower overall positive attitudes (e.g., Warden & Lin, 2000). In light of such diverse findings, Sardegna et al. (2015) called for more studies to validate their pronunciation inventory in other EFL contexts and tap into EFL learners’ pronunciation attitudes and motivations in other learning settings.

As far as the Iranian EFL context is concerned, to the researchers’ best of knowledge, although one study has focused on undergraduate English-major learners’ motivations and attitudes toward learning English in general observing a mixture of instrumental and integrative motivation among respondents with highly positive attitudes (Chalak & Kassaian, 2010), no particular study has been conducted into the phonological attitudes and motivations of English-major learners as potential teachers and interpreters. Because L2 pronunciation is now considered to play a crucial role in effective communication (e.g., Thomson and Derwing, 2015; Buss, 2016; Saito & Plonsky, 2019) and learners’ attitudes and motivations heavily affect their success in pronunciation performance (e.g., Pyun, 2013), this study aimed to revalidate the LAMP inventory in the Iranian EFL context and investigate English-major learners’ attitudes toward English pronunciation instructional practices as well as their motivational drives to learn this aspect of language. Accordingly, the following research questions guide the design of the study:

  1. To what extent does the LAMP model fit the data of the Iranian EFL context?
  2. What are the attitudes and motivations of Iranian English-major learners regarding teaching and learning English pronunciation?

3. Method

3. 1. Design

The study followed a non-experimental survey design in that it gathered learners’ data via the Persian version of the LAMP inventory. The data gathering procedure was conducted in 2018-2019, and the data was gathered from three provinces of Iran: Tehran, Alborz, and Isfahan. To assess the validity of the LAMP inventory in the Iranian EFL context, inferential statistics were used based on the results of confirmatory factor analysis. To investigate and interpret the data regarding learners’ attitudes and motivations, descriptive statistics in the form of frequencies of the responses to questionnaire items was employed.

 

3. 2. Participants

Participants were 364 English-major university students who were studying for a Bachelor’s degree in different states and private universities in Iran and consented to participate in the study. Originally, 391 learners participated, but 27 incomplete questionnaires were excluded from the study. These learners majored in English translation studies, English literature, or teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics of the participants.

 

Table 1.

Demographic Background of The Participants

No. of Participants

Gender (%)

Age

English Major (%)

364

Male: 42.1

Female: 57.9

Mean: 23.1

SD: 3.1

Translation: 43.4

Literature: 35.1

TEFL: 21.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. 3. Instrument

The questionnaire used in the survey was the Persian version of the LAMP inventory that was developed and validated by Sardegna et al. (2015). This inventory consists of four attitudinal factors and four motivational factors. The attitudinal factors include 18 questionnaire items (i.e., variables), including cognitive component (5 items), conative component (4 items), negative affect component (5 items), and self-efficacy component (4 items). The motivational factors comprised 17 variables, including intrinsic motivation (8 items), extrinsic motivation (4 items), integrative motivation (3 items), and curiosity (2 items).

To administer the LAMP inventory to the Iranian EFL participants of the study, LAMP items were first translated into the participants’ mother tongue (i.e., Persian) by the authors. The items were then checked for translation accuracy—in terms of form and content—by an English-Persian translation expert. Finally, the Persian version of LAMP was administered to a piloting sample of 10 English-major students for any possible item ambiguities (see Appendix A). The final version was administered to the target population of the study, and the internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) of each component (i.e., scale) was calculated, producing internally reliable component items (α ˃ 0.7; see Appendix B).

 

3. 4. Data Collection Procedure

After the development of the Persian version of the LAMP questionnaire as stated above, the questionnaire was administered to Iranian university English-major learners as the target population. All the respondents were given the hard copy of the questionnaire and returned them to the authors. In total, the process of administering and receiving back the questionnaires took over six months. After receiving all the questionnaires, the data were extracted and coded.

 

3. 5. Data Analysis Procedure

The collected data were first submitted to SPSS 23 to be prepared as the input to run confirmatory factor analysis using AMOS 23 software. Confirmatory factor analysis is used to test the hypothesis that whether a strong relationship exists between the observed variables and their underlying latent constructs. The AMOS only accepts fully crossed data sets, so the data were crosschecked for any missing variables. The measurement and structural models (Kunnan, 1998) were run to test the validity and adequacy of the model’s fit to the data.

Several criteria in the AMOS output were used to determine if the data fit the model. The chi-square test indicates the amount of difference between expected and observed covariance. For a fit model, the chi-square (χ2) probability level needs to be insignificant, hence greater than 0.05. Nevertheless, since confirmatory factor analysis is highly sensitive to the sample size, significant chi-square p-values are also acceptable if the chi-square-to-degrees-of-freedom index (χ2/df) proves that the model is fit. Therefore, the χ2/df index was also calculated for the model. In addition to chi-square indices, factor loadings and residuals, as well as the overall model indices were obtained. The required model fit indices provided by AMOS include the goodness of fit index (GFI), adjusted goodness of fit index (AGFI), normal fit index (NFI), Tucker-Lewis index (TLI), comparative fit index (GFI), and root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). The recommended value for an adequate fit level is higher than .9 for all indices but the last one; as for the RMSEA, the acceptable value is .05 or lower (Tseng, Dornyei, & Schmidt, 2006).

 

 

Figure 1. The attitudinal model of pronunciation for English-major learners.

 

4. Results

4. 1. LAMP Confirmatory Validation

The eight-factor model for L2 learners’ attitudes and motivations presented by Sardegna et al. (2015) was validated by confirmatory factor analysis. Figure 1 shows the schematic representation of the attitude model as run by AMOS. As shown in the figure, attitudinal factors enjoyed medium (.67) to high (.84) factor loadings for their relevant variables. As for the fitness of the model for the data, the required goodness of fit indices measured by AMOS are presented in Table 2.

As depicted in the table, the chi-square p-value was significant (p-value = .04) which shows a lack of fit. However, since the chi-square to degrees of freedom index was acceptable (χ2/df = 2.56 < 3), it can be concluded that the model fits the data.

 

Table 2.

Goodness of Fit Indices for English-major Learners’ Attitudes

Required index

 

Observed levels

 

Accepted levels

χ2

 

p = .04

 

p > .05

χ2/df

 

2.56

 

< 3

GFI

 

> .92

 

> .9

AGFI

 

> .91

 

> .9

NFI

 

> .94

 

> .9

IFI

 

> .92

 

> .9

RFI

 

> .94

 

> .9

TLI

 

> .95

 

> .9

CFI

 

> .96

 

> .9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moreover, all the other indices were well above the accepted levels of appropriateness. In terms of the four-factor motivation model, Figure 2 shows the schematic representation of the motivation model as run by AMOS. Similar to the attitudinal model, motivational factors enjoyed medium (.65) to high (.87) factor loadings for their relevant variables.

 

 

Figure 2. Motivational model of pronunciation for English-major learners.

 

As stated by Sardegna et al. (2015), although the curiosity factor includes only two variables—considered poor by some researchers (e.g., Costello & Osborne, 2005) as it is below minimum three variables—in the model, the results of CFA show that both variable items loaded highly (.86 and .87) on the curiosity factor.

 

Table 3.

The Goodness of Fit Indices for English-major Learners’ Motivations

Required index

 

Observed levels

 

Accepted levels

χ2

 

p = .03

 

p > .05

χ2/df

 

2.15

 

< 3

GFI

 

> .9

 

> .9

AGFI

 

> .93

 

> .9

NFI

 

> .91

 

> .9

IFI

 

> .94

 

> .9

RFI

 

> .93

 

> .9

TLI

 

> .94

 

> .9

CFI

 

> .92

 

> .9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              

    

 

 

 

Thus, this apparent weakness can be compensated by such high loadings (i.e., more than .80) and the appropriate number of the sample size (i.e., 364 participants) in this study that is at least ten times more than the number of variables (Velicer & Fava, 1998). Regarding the fitness of the model for the data, the required goodness of fit indices measured by AMOS are presented in Table 3. The chi-square p-value proved significant (p-value = .03) showing a lack of fit for the model. Yet, because the chi-square to degrees of freedom index was acceptable (χ2/df = 2.15 < 3), it can be concluded that the model fits the data. The other indices were within the specified accepted range.

 

4. 2. Learners’ Attitudes

The results of English-major learners’ attitudes are presented and tabulated in percentages (Table 4). The answers to the items in each component consisted of a five-point Likert scale (ranging from 1 for strongly disagree to 5 for strongly agree). The answers are merged into three categories (agree, neutral, disagree) for presentation and interpretation.

Table 4.

English-major Learners’ Attitudes Regarding English Pronunciation

 

Responses (%) *

Items

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Cognitive Attitudes

21. If I learn to pronounce like a native speaker, I will have better job offers.

 

72.1

 

10.2

 

17.7

20. If I could, I'd travel as much as possible to English-speaking countries because it improves my English pronunciation.

81.5

8.1

10.4

28. I can communicate better if I practice English pronunciation.

75.2

11.2

13.6

34. Learning to pronounce well is one of the most important parts of learning a language.

73.4

15

11.6

29. I believe more emphasis should be given to proper pronunciation in class.

75.1

7.1

17.8

Conative Attitudes

33. I look for useful materials to practice pronunciation on the Internet.

 

64.1

 

11.3

 

24.6

30. When I hear of a good pronunciation textbook or software, I try to buy it even if it is expensive.

59

17.1

23.9

26. I participate in group activities with other learners because that helps improve my pronunciation skills.

68.6

14.3

17.1

25. If I knew how to correct my pronunciation, I would spend at least 30 min a day practicing it.

71.2

15.3

13.5

Negative Affect

19. I start to panic when I have to read aloud or speak in front of others without having rehearsed before.

 

60.1

 

20.4

 

19.5

27. I worry about making pronunciation mistakes in a language class.

62.8

14.1

23.1

35. I get nervous when someone corrects my pronunciation mistakes.

45.4

22.2

32.4

23. It is a pain to correct my pronunciation in English.

60.2

10.5

29.3

Self-efficacy

32. I feel confident that people understand me when I talk.

 

58.5

 

23.1

 

18.4

31. I think I can improve my pronunciation on my own using online materials.

66.3

19.2

14.5

24. I am satisfied with my pronunciation progress this last year.

52.2

16.7

31.1

18. I can acquire accurate English pronunciation if I practice.

65.6

15.2

19.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

The results reveal that Iranian English majors had highly positive cognitive attitudes to English pronunciation learning. As examples, the majority of the learners believed that traveling to English-native countries would improve their pronunciation (M = 4.7; 81%) and practicing English pronunciation directly affects their English communication (M = 4.5; 75%). Moreover, they were almost unanimously in favor of more emphasis on pronunciation in classes (M = 4.5; 75%). They also stressed this positive attitude by regarding native-like pronunciation a key factor to find better future job offers (M = 4.4; 72%) and regarding pronunciation a crucial language skill (M = 4.4; 73%).

As for the conative attitudes, learners also held very positive attitudes toward learning English pronunciation. For example, most of the learners stated that they would like to practice pronunciation if they knew how (M = 4.4; 71%) and preferred group activities to brush on their pronunciation skill (M = 4.2; 68%). Regarding negative affective filters, respondents showed fairly high affective barriers in as more than half expressed that they worried about making pronunciation mistakes in the classroom (M = 4.1; 62%) and panicked about pronouncing English words without previous rehearsing (M = 4; 60%). Finally, more than half of the learners believed that they were capable of improving their English pronunciation if they practiced (M = 4.2; 65%). Nevertheless, only half stated that they were satisfied with their pronunciation progress (M = 3.2; 52%).

 

4. 3. Learners’ Motivations

The results of English-major learners’ motivations are presented and tabulated in percentages (Table 5). The results show that Iranian English majors were generally more inclined toward intrinsic drives to learn English pronunciation rather than extrinsic motivational goals.

Regarding intrinsic motivations, the majority of the respondents favored fun, interesting pronunciation activities (M = 4.8; 82%), expressed their strong tendencies to work on pronunciation even if not required by the teacher or syllabus (M = 4.6; 74%) to their full personal satisfaction (M = 4.6; 72%), and regarded pronunciation as of their top favorite language skills (M = 4.5; 70%). On the contrary, a small proportion of the learners engaged in pronunciation practice because of the teacher feedback (M = 1.5; 22%), receiving good grades (M = 1.6; 25%), or being required by the teacher or syllabus (M = 1.7; 30%). On a par with intrinsic drives, English majors also manifested strong integrative orientations. For example, the majority of the respondents (M = 4.4; 74%) stated that they desired native-like pronunciation. Similarly, they mostly favored native-like phonological command so that others would not recognize their L2 accent (M = 4.3; 70%). Finally, high levels of curiosity were also observed among the respondents as a high proportion stated their curiosity to learn the pronunciation of new words (M = 4.7; 78%) and their willingness to learn the pronunciation of difficult sounds (M = 4.5; 74%).

 

Table 5.

English-major learners’ Motivations Regarding English Pronunciation

 

Responses (%) *

Items

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Intrinsic Motivation

10. I enjoy challenging pronunciation materials (textbooks, websites) even if they are difficult.

 

65.2

 

15.7

 

19.1

9. I make sure that I have enough time to practice my pronunciation

60.6

21.1

18.3

3. I practice my English pronunciation even when it is not required by the teacher or homework.

74.4

9.2

16.4

12. I enjoy listening to myself as I try out or say sounds, words, and sentences.

67.5

18.1

14.4

6. I enjoy imitating English words and phrases that I hear around me (e.g., from people, TV, websites, applications, etc.).

69.2

16.5

14.3

11. I stop practicing a sound or another aspect of my pronunciation only when I feel satisfied with my improvement.

72.1

10.8

17.1

5. I like pronunciation activities more than other activities.

70.3

17.5

12.2

2. I like pronunciation activities and materials that are interesting and fun.

82.4

10.5

7.1

Extrinsic Motivation

13. I practice pronunciation because it is required in my class, school, or institution.

 

30.7

 

14.1

 

55.5

7. I practice pronunciation only to get good grades in my English class.

25.5

20.2

54.3

14. I work on my pronunciation because I want a good/better salary.

25.8

13

61.2

8. I only practice my pronunciation when I have a teacher that provides me with feedback on my pronunciation work.

22.2

16.5

61.3

Integrative Motivation

15. I'd like to lose my foreign accent and be able to speak with a native accent

 

74.1

 

13.5

 

12.4

17. I think I would have more foreign friends if my accent were closer to an English accent.

58.7

18.3

23

16. My goal is for people not to recognize my nationality because of my accent.

69.6

14.2

16.2

Curiosity

4. I am curious about how to pronounce new words.

 

78.4

 

10.3

 

16.2

1. When I have difficulty pronouncing sounds, I cannot wait to find information about how it is pronounced.

78.4

10.3

11.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Discussion

This study firstly set to revalidate the attitude and motivation for pronunciation (LAMP) model originally proposed by Sardegna et al. (2015) in an EFL context. Secondly, the Iranian English-major learners’ attitudes and motivations regarding the importance of EFL pronunciation instruction for English-major university students were investigated via the LAMP inventory. It has been recently echoed in the L2 psychology literature that despite ample research into learners’ attitudinal and motivational orientations in various L2 aspects, research conducted on pronunciation skill is still scarce, especially in the Asian EFL context (Buss, 2016).

As for the first research question, the results of the confirmatory factor analysis revealed that LAMP inventory is a fit, plausible model for the Iranian EFL academic context. The adequate loadings of variables under each four attitudinal and motivational constructs reveal that the presented items can sufficiently investigate the EFL learners’ perceptions regarding the relevant psychological construct.  

Regarding the second research question, investigating the Iranian English-major learners’ attitudinal perceptions in terms of pronunciation via the LAMP inventory, the findings revealed that learners had very positive cognitive and conative attitudes to learning and improving their English pronunciation. This finding is in line with the results of the study conducted by Tokumoto and Shibata (2011) in which it was observed that Japanese and Korean EFL learners preferred English–native accents (see also Chalak & Kassaian, 2010, for the positive attitudes of Iranian English-major learners toward learning English), yet it differs from their findings for the Malaysian EFL learners who valued their L1-accented English. Sardegna et al. (2015) define cognitive attitudes as the overall beliefs of the learners on the learning target. Iranian English-major learners attached very positive cognitive attitudes to pronunciation and regarded it with high importance as they believed pronunciation deserves to have a place in English communicative classes and that native-like pronunciation performance directly correlates with their overall English-related future success as prospective teachers and/or interpreters. Highly positive cognitive attitudes are also reflected in learners’ conative attitudes in which learners show their inclinations to act and behave to reach their learning goals.

The results of the study showed that Iranian English-major learners also had positive conative attitudes. This finding proves that although native-like pronunciation accuracy may be communicatively irrelevant in EFL contexts as it is the intelligibility that is of high importance (Jenkins, 2005), English-major learners as future professionals of the field regard pronunciation accuracy as well as intelligibility with overriding importance even within an EFL context. Because pronunciation is an important factor in high-stake international English testing, such as IELTS and TOEFL (Iwashita et al., 2008), it is reasonable to argue that English-major curriculum developers, syllabus designers, and instructors need to devote undivided attention to the phonological aspects of the English language and align the instructional methodologies with up-to-date online, computerized technologies as demanded by the learners.

Putting the limelight on affective domains, the findings revealed that negative affective filters play a major role in learners’ L2 phonological performance as the majority of the respondents stated that they start to feel anxious to pronounce words and sentences without prior pronunciation checks, and they are worried about their pronunciation mistakes.  As it was mentioned above, learners’ success in pronunciation performance is heavily affected by learners’ attitudes and motivations. Moreover, learners mostly found pronunciation accuracy a difficult distracting factor in the flow of English communication. According to Do and Schallert (2004), negative emotions (e.g., anxiety and frustration) can heavily affect learners’ progress. This finding emphasizes the need for instructors to foster a friendlier atmosphere in their English classes by establishing appropriate rapport and creating an anxiety-free classroom atmosphere. By so doing, learners are more at ease to engage in oral communication because they are not afraid of making pronunciation mistakes.

Iranian EFL respondents also stated that although they believed in their own capabilities to improve pronunciation and were curious to brush up this skill, they were not generally satisfied with their progress as university English majors. This reflects the fact that this aspect of English language performance has not gained its well-deserved place in English communicative syllabi in the Iranian EFL contexts yet. Hence, as pronunciation plays a crucial role in effective and mutually intelligible English communication (Thomson & Derwing, 2015), more emphasis needs to be laid on this aspect of language in the Iranian EFL academic context for English-major learners by syllabus designers and instructors. 

The LAMP inventory includes the motivational orientations of EFL learners as well. In total, it was observed that learners possessed high levels of intrinsic motivations rather than extrinsic drives. According to Noels et al. (2000), intrinsic orientations (i.e., learning for the sake of enjoyment and personal satisfaction) result in more durable learning behaviors than the extrinsic counterparts (learning for the sake of an external award). Moreover, research shows that learners with stronger self-regulatory capacities (e.g., the self-induced practice of English pronunciation by English majors in this study) are more resourceful, active and efficient in academic task performance (Tseng et al., 2017). Iranian English-major learners’ higher levels of intrinsic motivations, however, run against some previous findings in Asian EFL contexts in which learners were found to be more extrinsically oriented (e.g., Warden & Lin, 2000; Chen et al., 2005). The reason for such a difference in motivational orientations might be the nature of the learners under investigation. Whereas these studies focused on general EFL learners who regard English mostly as a means to success, the current study focused exclusively on English-major learners who regard the English language itself as the goal and take different aspects of English more seriously as future language teachers and interpreters.

The respondents also reported substantial levels of integrativeness. Defined as a general interest in L2 culture and a tendency to have possible L2 native friends (Dornyei, 2005), integrative orientations are a key factor in the effort a learner puts in to succeed. This finding, however, counters some arguments by researchers (e.g., Pae, 2008; Ushioda, 2006) claiming that integrative motivation is mostly at play in ESL contexts. The Iranian EFL learners in this study expressed their ideal wish to speak with a native-like accent in a way that their L1 accent is hardly recognized. Yet, the concept of finding English-native friends, which is emphasized by some other researchers (Dornyei, 2005) as a strong integrative factor, was not very popular among Iranian English majors. This reveals that integrative orientations might also be strong in EFL contexts even when learners are not frequently in contact with English native speakers if they regard English mastery as the eventual goal of learning. Moreover, such inclinations cab be even stronger for English majors who—due to the nature of their academic field—are more seriously engaged with English L1 countries’ culture.

All in all, the current survey’s findings reveal that the LAMP inventory enjoys adequate construct validity as a fit model to tap into Iranian English-major learners’ attitudinal and motivational beliefs regarding pronunciation. Moreover, the survey findings demonstrate that despite the current marginalization of English pronunciation instruction in Iranian EFL academic contexts, English-major learners have highly positive attitudes toward learning and teaching pronunciation for effective English communication and enjoy high levels of intrinsic and integrative motivations to engage in pronunciation learning activities.

Similar to any scientific research, this study had its own limitations which necessitate the reported findings to be interpreted with caution. Primarily, the number of the English-major learners participating in the study were limited due to the time and availability of the respondents. Future research may include a larger target population for questionnaire administration (e.g., via web-based questionnaire administration). Secondly, this study tapped into the attitudes and motivations of university English-major learners. Now that the Persian version of the LAMP inventory is validated in this study, research can bring the limelight on high school students who engage in EFL learning in their teenagerhood or even on the preservice English teachers being educated in institutional contexts. This will shed some light on how EFL learners belonging to different age groups and learning contexts with different goals regarding the role and importance of EFL pronunciation. Finally, interviews with learners and classroom observations can improve the external validity of the findings by triangulating the results of questionnaire administration. 

 

6. Conclusion

The L2 pronunciation is now regarded as one of the integral components of any L2 instructional syllabi wherein developing intelligible communication proficiency is prioritized (Thomson & Derwing, 2015). As a result, the psychological side of pronunciation instruction and learning has witnessed a surge of recent interest in L2 research. Taking this into account, the current study analyzed the validity of LAMP inventory in the Iranian EFL academic context and tapped into the attitudinal and motivational inclinations of the Iranian English-major learners.

In general, it was observed that LAMP can provide a fit model for studying the Iranian English-major learners’ attitudes and motivations regarding L2 pronunciation. The investigation of English-major learners’ perceptions and motivational drives in various EFL contexts, including but not limited to academic English-major settings, via a validated model may shed light on how they perceive and regard pronunciation in contexts in which English is learned and practiced as a foreign language. The findings of the study also revealed that although the concept of intelligibility is of crucial importance in EFL/ESL contexts (Jenkins, 2005; Thomson & Derwing, 2015), pronunciation accuracy and native-like phonological performance could also be a definitive criterion in academic contexts for English-major learners as prospective language teachers and interpreters.  Furthermore, it was revealed that although Iranian English majors were strongly inclined toward learning the English language phonological system via syllabus-induced and self-induced updated materials and practices (e.g., online and offline computerized software and applications), they were heavily influenced by negative affective filters.

Thus, syllabus designers and instructors for university English-major learners should not only emphasize English pronunciation instruction via technologically-updated, challenging, and meaning-oriented practices but also try their best to provide a friendlier, stress-free classroom atmosphere. Besides, with the availability of the validated Persian version of the LAMP inventory, future studies can take a comparative approach and compare the findings of this study with other academic and nonacademic EFL contexts to see how English pronunciation teaching and learning is regarded by various EFL learning contexts.

 

 

 

Appendix A

The Persian version of the LAMP, translated, validated and employed in this study

 

به نام یزدان پاک

 

با تشکر از تمامی دانشجویانی که در این پژوهش قبول زحمت و شرکت نموده‌اند، پرسشنامه‌ای که پیش رو دارید به‌منظور بررسی رویکرد و نظرات شما در مورد مهارت تلفظ زبان انگلیسی است. لطفا توجه داشته باشید که این پرسشنامه یک آزمون نبوده و هیچ پاسخ غلط یا درستی در آن وجود ندارد.

 

  

 

بخش اول: در این بخش با کشیدن دایره، میزان مخالفت یا موافقت خود را با عبارت‌های ذیل مشخص کنید.

1

کاملا مخالفم

2

مخالفم

3

نه مخالف، نه موافق

4

موافقم

5

کاملا موافقم

 

مثال: اگر با جمله ذیل کاملا موافق هستید، دور عدد 5 را خط بکشید.

*

من ورزش کردن را دوست دارم.

1

2

3

4

5

 

5

4

3

2

1

اگر در تلفظ یک واژه مشکل داشته باشم، بی‌صبرانه منتظرم تا تلفظ آن را یاد بگیرم.

1

5

4

3

2

1

فعالیت و تمرین‌های تلفظی را دوست دارم که سرگرم‌کننده و جذاب باشند.

2

5

4

3

2

1

حتی اگر استاد یا تکالیف من را ملزم به تمرین تلفظ انگلیسی نکرده باشند، خودم تمرین می‌کنم.

3

5

4

3

2

1

کنجکاو هستم تا هرچه سریع‌تر تلفظ واژگان و عبارات جدید انگلیسی را فرا بگیرم.

4

5

4

3

2

1

فعالیت‌ها و تمرین‌های تلفظ را بیش از دیگر جنبه‌های زبان انگلیسی دوست دارم.

5

5

4

3

2

1

از تقلید و تکرار تلفظ انگلیسی که در اطراف خود می‌شنوم (دیگران یا فیلم) لذت می‌برم.

6

5

4

3

2

1

هدف اصلی من از تمرین و بهبود تلفظ انگلیسی، گرفتن نمره‌های بهتر در کلاس است.

7

5

4

3

2

1

تنها زمانی تلفظ انگلیسی را تمرین می‌کنم که استادم در موردش نظر دهد و آن را اصلاح کند.

8

5

4

3

2

1

تمام سعی خود را می‌کنم تا زمان کافی برای تمرین تلفظ انگلیسی داشته باشم.

9

5

4

3

2

1

از خواندن و کار با منابع چالشی تلفظ (کتاب، وب‌سایت) لذت می‌برم، حتی اگر سخت باشند.

10

5

4

3

2

1

تنها زمانی دست از تمرین تلفظ انگلیسی برمی‌دارم که از توانایی خود کاملا راضی باشم.

11

5

4

3

2

1

از شنیدن صدای خودم در هنگام تلفظ و صحبت‌کردن به انگلیسی لذت می‌برم.

12

5

4

3

2

1

تنها زمانی تلفظ زبان انگلیسی را تمرین می‌کنم که از طرف کلاس ملزم به این کار باشم.

13

5

4

3

2

1

تنها به این دلیل تلفظ انگلیسی را تمرین می‌کنم که در آینده حقوق و مزایای بهتری داشته باشم.

14

5

4

3

2

1

دوست دارم تا انگلیسی را بدون لهجه مادری خود و مانند بومیان انگلیسی صحبت کنم.

15

5

4

3

2

1

اگر لهجه‌ای مانند بومیان انگلیسی داشته باشم، می‌توانم دوستان خارجی بیشتری پیدا کنم.

16

5

4

3

2

1

هدفم این است که هنگام صحبت کردن به انگلیسی، لهجه بومی-مادری من مشخص نباشد.

17

5

4

3

2

1

اگر تمرین کنم، می‌توانم تلفظ زبان انگلیسی خود را بهبود بخشم.

18

5

4

3

2

1

وقتی مجبورم در کلاس متن انگلیسی را از رو خوانده یا به انگلیسی صحبت کنم بدون اینکه از قبل تلفظ واژگان را تمرین کرده باشم، دچار استرس و اضطراب می‌شوم.

19

5

4

3

2

1

 تلاش می‌کنم تا به کشورهای انگلیسی زبان سفر کنم تا تلفظ انگلیسی خود را بهبود بخشم.

20

5

4

3

2

1

اگر بتوانم مانند یک بومی انگلیسی تلفظ کنم، موقعیت‌های شغلی (مانند تدریس یا ترجمه شفاهی) بهتری در آینده نصیب من خواهد شد.

21

5

4

3

2

1

معمولا نگران این هستم که مبادا اشتباه تلفظی در کلاس داشته باشم.

22

5

4

3

2

1

بسیار سخت مشکلات و ایرادات تلفظی خود را بهبود می‌بخشم.

23

5

4

3

2

1

از پیشرفت تلفظ زبان انگلیسی خود در یک سال گذشته رضایت دارم.

24

5

4

3

2

1

اگر بدانم که چطور تلفظ انگلیسی خود را تقویت کنم، حداقل روزی 30 دقیقه تمرین می‌کنم.

25

5

4

3

2

1

در فعالیت‌های گروهی مکالمه شرکت می‌کنم تا تلفظ زبان انگلیسی خود را تقویت کنم.

26

5

4

3

2

1

وقتی فردی اشتباه تلفظی من را اصلاح می‌کند، عصبی و ناراحت می‌شوم.

27

5

4

3

2

1

با تمرین بیشتر روی تلفظ انگلیسی، بهتر می‌توانم با دیگران به زبان انگلیسی ارتباط برقرار کنم.

28

5

4

3

2

1

به نظرم تأکید بیشتری باید بر روی تلفظ صحیح انگلیسی در کلاس صورت گیرد.

29

5

4

3

2

1

اگر کتاب یا نرم‌افزار مفیدی در مورد تلفظ انگلیسی به من معرفی بشود، سعی می‌کنم آن را تهیه کنم، هرچند ارزان نباشد.

30

5

4

3

2

1

به نظرم، خودم با تمرین و استفاده از منابع مناسب می‌توانم تلفظ خود را بهبود بخشم.

31

5

4

3

2

1

مطمئن هستم هنگام صحبت به انگلیسی، شنوندگان کاملا کلام و منظور من را می‌فهمند.

32

5

4

3

2

1

برای یافتن تمرین و فعالیت‌های مفید بهبود تلفظ انگلیسی، از اینترنت استفاده می‌کنم.

33

5

4

3

2

1

فرا گرفتن تلفظ صحیح انگلیسی، یکی از بخش‌های مهم یادگیری هر زبانی است.

34

5

4

3

2

1

هنگام صحبت به انگلیسی، تمرکز روی تلفظ صحیح دشوار است و حواسم را پرت می‌کند.

35

 

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 Appendix B

The results of the internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha) for the components of the Persian version of the LAMP inventory

  

 

Questionnaire Section

Component

No. of Items

Alpha (α) Coefficient

Attitude

Cognitive Attitude

5

.883

Conative Attitude

4

.925

Negative Affect

4

.708

Self-efficacy

4

.788

Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation

8

.842

Extrinsic Motivation

4

.806

Integrative Motivation

3

.779

Curiosity

2

.865

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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