An interview with Diana Martínez Salatín, Phonology Clinic Tutor
E-duT: Diana, you’ve specialized on English Phonology for teachers and translators at college level and you are now offering Phonology Clinics at E-duTraining.
Diana: Yes, that’s right. The year after I graduated, back in 2000, I started my training and specialization on the subject ‘Phonology I’ under the tutoring of Mónica Pérez. I took an interest in analyzing and comparing mistakes students made in their transcriptions with those mistakes they made in diction, and this eventually resulted into my research piece entitled ‘Three second-language-acquisition paradigms in the search for an affiliation between transcription and diction errors’. This final research stood as a great learning opportunity by means of which I was able to prove that errors made in transcriptions reveal diction difficulties. Since that very moment, I’ve been coaching in English Phonology and I find it absolutely rewarding helping students to overcome their pronunciation difficulties. Working at E-duTraining is a real pleasure for me as it gives me the possibility of doing what I love: helping students to polish their diction.
E-duT: Who are these clinics for?
Diana: The clinics are mainly aimed at EFL advanced students, teachers/translators/interpreters-to-be and definitely for teachers of English, translators and interpreters already working in their field of expertise. I would say that participants need to possess some knowledge about English Phonology so as to be in a better position to fully take advantage of the clinics.
E-duT: Which are the areas that you notice English language professionals need to improve and how do you cater for specific needs in the clinics?
Diana: It happens at times that in our daily professional practice we start overlooking certain aspects and it seems to be that pronunciation is probably one of the aspects that tends to be overlooked in the first place. So it is advisable from time to time, to stop and give yourself a chance of revising and polishing. In these clinics in particular I offer attendees lots of instances to do this: to stop, analyze, compare, contrast, set objectives, reflect and many other means by which we make their learning process enriching and self-fulfilling. In order to cater for specific needs, participants have the chance of carrying out recordings and they later get individual feedback about them. What is more, we have individual Skype sessions where attendees are given individual feedback on their oral production. All in all, these clinics foster one-to-one tuition so they are in very sense personalized and they do cater for each attendee’s specific needs. Nevertheless, we also have instances of collaborative learning and of activities aimed at the whole group of participants where there’s interaction and discussion.
E-duT: How are the clinics organized?
Diana: They are divided into modules and each of them builds up upon the other. In order to move forward you need to take into account the practice done up to that point so students find themselves recycling content most of the time. In each module there’s usually an introduction where theory is given in the form of PowerPoint presentations, videos or handouts. Then there is a section devoted to practice where participants are offered plenty of activities to put into action the knowledge they acquired in the introduction section. In every module, attendees are requested to submit some assignments or they are asked to participate in quizzes, forums or wikis. In general, during the whole clinic, we have two web conferences –one at the beginning to launch the clinic and the other one halfway in the course generally aimed at working with some theoretical items. In these clinics in particular, we have a series of individual skype sessions and also instances for students to carry out recordings, all of which aims at giving participants instances of real practice targeted at polishing and improving both segmental and suprasegmental features.
E-duT: What do your students enjoy the most about the clinics?
Diana: I’d say students find the clinics dynamic, entertaining and practical and this is what they enjoy the most. Also, the fact that they can see theory in action in real situations and that they have many instances to be listened to by means of the Skype sessions and with the possibility they have of submitting recordings of their own speech. In this way, they get personalized feedback and the tutor can help them develop the strategies they are more in need of.
E-duT: And, what do you enjoy the most?
Diana:I absolutely enjoy when I succeed in making students enjoy the process of polishing their pronunciation in English. I also enjoy when students have fun while going through the practice offered in the clinics. A plus is, as well, that participants become aware of the different characteristics of English diction and this helps them to improve their overall production in English. It’s pretty much connected to the tagline given to the clinics: I want students to see the enjoyable enlightening side of English pronunciation. So I offer them instances to do this and when they finally view it and live it, well, that’s the rewarding part of tutoring these clinics!
E-duT: Thank you!