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Article

The backyard of EFL teaching: issues behind L1 prosodic interference in Russian English

Journal of Language and Education. 2015. Vol. 1. No. 4. P. 37-44.
Popkova E.

In modern EFL teaching in Russia, much attention is paid to making students aware of variations in the cultural schemata represented by their L1 and the target language, as well as behavioral patterns of their speakers. At the same time, researchers and teaching practitioners scarcely address certain linguistic issues of Russian L1 prosodic interference that lead to attitudinal confusion on the part of native English speakers even when utterances produced by Russian EFL learners are void of any grammatical and lexical errors.

The study examines Russian L1 intonation in English, analyzes the differences in the pragmatic meaning created by the wrong application of L1 intonation contours, and looks at the reasons leading to the failure of the educational system to address the issue. Specifically, the paper investigates features of Russian L1 prosodic interference that affect communication and lead to misunderstanding of Russian speakers’ attitude or intent from native speakers’ perspective, as well as questions the importance of teacher beliefs in dealing with the problem. The results emphasize the importance of intonation teaching in an English classroom and suggest possible ways of dealing with institutional constraints that impede full-fledged intonation study.