Explicit teaching of segmentals versus suprasegmentals: Which would yield better listening comprehension skills for interpreter trainees? An experimental study (Published)
The present study investigates the effect of explicit teaching of segmentals and suprasegmentals on developing listening comprehension skills for Farsi-English interpreter trainees. Three groups of student interpreters were formed. All were native speakers of Farsi who studied English translation and interpreting at the BA level at the University of Applied Sciences in Tehran, Iran. Participants were assigned to groups at random, but with equal division between genders (6 female and 6 male students in each group). No significant differences in English language skills (TOEFL scores) could be established between the groups prior to the experiment. Participants took a pretest of listening comprehension before starting the program. The control group listened to authentic audio tracks in English and discussed their contents, watched authentic English movies, discussed issues in the movies in pairs in the classroom. The first experimental group spent part of the time on theoretical explanation of, and practical exercises with, English suprasegmentals. The second experimental group spent part of the time on theoretical explanation of, and practical exercises with, English segmentals. The total instruction time was the same for all three groups, i.e. 12 hours. Students then took a posttest in listening comprehension skills. The results show that the explicit teaching of segmentals significantly improved the students’ listening comprehension skills more than that of the other groups. These results have pedagogical implications for curriculum designers, interpreting programs for training future interpreters, material producers and all who are involved in language study and pedagogy.