The English for Academic Preparation (EAP) program at the University of Prince Edward Island
had a problem common to all universities with international students in their co-op programs.
Some of their students couldn't get job placements because their English pronunciation wasn't
good enough to compete with native-English speakers. The potential employers literally didn't
understand them and they didn't always understand the questions.
A solution was successfully tested during the 2008 winter semester. The EAP program hired Michele
Moffat, a Speech-Language Pathologist with advanced training in pronunciation of English as another
language. As a speech scientist, Michele developed a 10-week course based on one two-hour class
a week. The course also included practice with the Chuala software.
Michele began by testing the students using 70 sounds or sound-combinations in 350 different
word positions. There are approximately 45 sounds in English, used in different combinations
and in different locations within words. For example, the /th/ sound may occur at the
beginning, middle or end of a word. Adjacent vowels and consonants also have an effect
on the production of the target sound. For example the mouth is formed differently to
produce the words "cop" and "key" although they both begin with the same /k/ sound.
Over the ten-week period the students worked on problem sounds in class and on Chuala.
The same test was given at the end of the course and there was an 83% improvement.
The program was timely for business student Li Yuxiang, originally from China, who graduated
this spring. A resident of Canada for the past six years, he struggled with English pronunciation.
He praised the program, saying that he enjoyed the scientific learning approach in the course,
and Moffat's dedication to her students.
"I think this course is great," he says. "I suggest that everyone who does not speak English
as their first language should attend this course."
Michele had this to say about Chuala at the end of the course.
"As a speech-language pathologist I love what Chuala has to offer me clinically. Chuala is a tool
that I can use to tailor practice to the individual needs of each of my students. It is brilliant
to be able to prepare a lesson, record it from my office and have it available to my students for
practice. It opens up entirely new realms of possibilities clinically."