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Signal analysis software for teaching discourse intonation

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In the last fifteen years, there have been major paradigm shifts in both general and applied linguistics toward acknowledging intonation as an indispensable component of language and communication. In addition, the hardware and software for conducting acoustic phonetic signal analysis have recently become more accessible. The main goal of this paper is thus to integrate the two seemingly disparate subfields of linguistics, acoustic phonetics, and discourse intonation, and to suggest a new framework for facilitating and studying the acquisition of suprasegmental phonology. The purpose of this article is threefold: (1) to review previous research on the acquisition of suprasegmentale by L2 learners and the potential of computer-based instructional materials for improving intonation; (2) to briefly describe and critique some of the software previously available for this purpose; and (3) to suggest criteria for the conceptualization of multimedia software and concomitant research on the teaching of discourse-based phonology and intonation. In looking toward the future, this article will focus on providing learners with discourse-level language input and with specific feedback regarding acoustic features of the intonation patterns they produce. Finally, the article urges that software be designed to include both research tools and tools to facilitate, record, and analyze the intonation produced in real interactions between speakers.

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