A teaching practicum course and its effects on international teaching assistants' discourse intonation

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This report [1] focuses on four upper-intermediate and advanced English language learners being supported as international teaching assistants (ITAs) at a research university in the U.S. [1] Learners had little experience using English in extended speech, and little grasp of Discourse Intonation (DI), which is how a speaker uses the pausing and prosodic system of English to communicate. In order to increase the learners' experience using extended speech to teach in authentic settings, and to improve their ability to use DI, the author arranged a teaching practicum course in collaboration with the departments of math, mechanical engineering, and physics. The four learners engaged in once-a-week explicit instruction on DI, twice-a-week DI focus-on-form listening tasks, four teaching simulation tasks, and once-a-week guest teaching sessions in their departments for fourteen weeks. The combination of instruction, tasks, and teaching practicum experiences were intended to help learners develop explicit DI knowledge, and to provide opportunities to proceduralize DI knowledge, in other words, the ability to use DI in teaching. Data suggest that all learners developed explicit DI knowledge, but only two of them developed some degree of proceduralized DI knowledge. The report ends with the suggestion that explicit and procedural DI knowledge likely have layers of development within them. Suggestions for discipline-specific tasks to develop learners' explicit and proceduralized DI knowledge are given.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Discourse Intonation
  • English pronunciation
  • Explicit and procedural knowledge in second languages
  • Graduate student teaching practicum courses
  • STEM teaching
  • Second language pronunciation learning
  • Second languages for professional communication


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