Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Learners as models: the pedagogical value of near peer role models

    Curry, Nial ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4471-6794 (2019) Learners as models: the pedagogical value of near peer role models. Speak Out! Journal of the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group, 60. pp. 34-43. ISSN 2313-7703

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    At Cambridge University Press, we work with teachers and learners worldwide when developing ELT materials. During the conception of our new adult general English course, we reached out to learners to get a view of their language learning needs. We surveyed over 14,000 English language learners with the aim of finding out what motivated them when learning English, what challenges they faced, and, in particular, which part of learning English was most difficult for them. Perhaps, somewhat unsurprisingly, we found that speaking in English outranked any other skill or system in terms of challenge. To this effect, we sought evidence-based means to help learners overcome the challenges of speaking, drawing from research in second language acquisition, psycholinguistics and broader educational research to do so. Of course, this is no small feat and it is beyond the scope of this article to detail exactly how this was done. Rather, in order to contextualise near-peer role models research, which is the focus of this paper, first, an overview of speaking research applied to our work in Cambridge is presented. Second, the focus returns to near-peer role models, considering what this term means and, third, the contexts in which it has arisen. Fourth, the theoretical underpinnings of near-peer role models are presented, followed by a discussion of classroom implications for teachers and learners. Finally, a brief review of pronunciation research using near-peer role models is presented followed by a conclusion which considers how near-peer role models research can be applied to ELT materials development.

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