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Innovation in Language Learning 14th Edition 2021

Using Self-Assessment in ESL Pronunciation Classes

Kathleen Brannen; Emily Rosales; Isabelle Wouters; Paul John


Second language learners often find it difficult to assess their own pronunciation; however, research shows that self-assessment activities improve learning outcomes and that learners develop more autonomy as they become increasingly proficient at regulating their performance. Unfortunately, studies that look specifically at self-assessment of pronunciation are limited. Therefore, we seek to determine if self-assessment activities can improve L2 English learners’ pronunciation of some consonants that are typically challenging: “th” and “h.” Learners tend to substitute the “th” sounds /θ, ð/ with /t, d/ or /s, z/, and, for some L1s, to delete /h/, and, in some cases, insert /h/. Advanced ESL learners from a variety of L1 backgrounds completed a read-aloud pre-/post-test, which established progress in the pronunciation of these sounds. The test group completed weekly self-assessment activities where they analyzed their own recorded speech. The control group did not complete the self-assessments. Test group participants were also interviewed regarding their impressions of the self-assessment activities and their pronunciation progress. Qualitative data suggests that the self-assessments improved learners’ attitudes and global awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. Quantitative analyses show that both groups improved on /h/ and /θ/, but not on /ð/. Discussion addresses group differences from a developmental viewpoint and offers suggestions to improve self-assessment of L2 pronunciation. 

Keywords: Self-assessment, pronunciation, consonants.


  • Andrade, H. & Valtcheva, A. (2009). Promoting Learning and Achievement Through Self-Assessment. Theory Into Practice, 48(1), 12-19, DOI: 10.1080/00405840802577544.
  • Brannen, K. (2011). The perception and production of interdental fricatives in second language acquisition. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
  • Brannen, K., Rosales, E., Wouters, I. & John, P. (2021, June). The effects of self-assessment activities on awareness and accuracy in ESL pronunciation classes. Virtual poster presented at the Twelfth Annual Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada.
  • Harris, L. R., & Brown, G. T. L. (2018). Using Self-Assessment to Improve Student Learning. New York: Routledge.

Publication date: 2021/11/12
ISBN: 979-12-80225-16-0
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