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ReCALL Volume 19 Part 1 January 2007


This paper outlines the ongoing construction of a speech corpus for use by applied linguists and advanced EFL/ESL students. The first section establishes the need for improvements in the teaching of listening skills and pronunciation practice for EFL/ESL students. It argues for the need to use authentic native-to-native speech in the teaching/learning process so as to promote social inclusion and contextualises this within the literature, based mainly on the work of Swan, Brown and McCarthy. The second part addresses features of native speech flow which cause difficulties for EFL/ESL students (Brown, Cauldwell) and establishes the need for improvements in the teaching of listening skills. Examples are given of reduced forms characteristic of relaxed native speech, and how these can be made accessible for study using the Technological University Dublin’s slow-down technology, which gives students more time to study native speech features, without tonal distortion. The final section introduces a novel Speech Corpus being developed at DIT. It shows the limits of traditional corpora and outlines the general requirements of a Speech Corpus. This tool–which will satisfy the needs of teachers, learners and researchers–will link digitally recorded, natural, native-to-native speech so that each transcript segment will be linked to its associated sound file. Users will be able to locate desired speech strings, play, compare and contrast them—and slow them down for more detailed study.