Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gym-glish! Fiona gets physical!

Fiona's ESL Blog this month has a brilliant excerpt from the second issue of Here Magazine: AT THE GYM - a beginner's workout (PDF downloadable!) For some, body-based pedagogy can be enhanced considerably by a little "body work" up front--and other places! Required reading.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Haptic solutions: [i] versus [I] - Not even close to a close vowel!

Clip art: Clker
Got any students who have difficulty making or hearing the distinction between [i] and [I] or [u] and [U]? In articulatory and perceptual terms, those two pairs of vowels are problematic for learners from many different L1s. Phonetic descriptions refer to [i] and [u] as close vowels; the other two are said to be done with the tongue "not so close" to the roof of the mouth.

Advice to learners on how to produce the differences ranges from "Smile more on [i]" or "Round your lips more on [u]," to "Tense your jaw more on one," etc. Vowel charts typically have them located very close together visually, often in the same high-front or high-back box. (Why the IPA chart or something close to it is used for learners has always been a mystery to me. Probably something to do with the linguists who set it up?) As explored in several earlier blogposts, even the choice of the left to right (front to back) lay out of the vowel chart is apparently arbitrary--and from a phonaesthetic perspective, probably backwards. (EHIEP does go right-to-left, in fact.)

The importance of spatial positioning in anchoring conceptual and emotional "closeness" has just been highlighted in a new study by Maglio at the university of Toronto-Scarborough and colleagues, briefly and informally summarized by our friends at " . . . something that feels close in one way, such as physical distance, will also feel close in time, probability, and social similarity." 

In the case of haptic vowel positioning, the opposite should apply; those perceived as more haptically dissimilar should be easier to distinguish and produce. In the EHIEP system, those pairs of vowels are experientially "distanced" by: 
1. Being visually distinct: [i] is represented as [iy]; [I], as [I]
2. Pedagogical movement patterns that are very different. On [iy] the left hand had brushes by the right hand (positioned at 1 o'clock in the visual field) and continues on to just above the middle of the forehead at the hair line. On [I], the left hand lightly taps the right hand, positioned at 2 o'clock. 
3. The typical student reaction to learning the haptic distinctions between close and non-close vowels  involved being something like "Those vowels are really not that close at all!" Exactly. 

See demonstrations of double smooth (tense vowel + off-glide) and single rough vowels (simple lax or tense vowel) there on or on the AH-EPS website. If a demo is password-accessible only by the time you go to look at it, email for temporary access.

Stay close; keep in touch. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Haptic "INTRA-diction!" in Pronunciation Teaching

Credit: Henrichsen, BYU
Our new, favourite new word: INTRA-diction! (You may have noticed that we, hapticians, occasionally have to come up with new terms to accurately characterize what we do (e.g., haptician.)) Hopefully, it will be the focus of a new haptic workshop that we are proposing for TESOL 2015 in Toronto, next March: "On the spot, impromptu haptic pronunciation modelling, feedback and correction." (See earlier blogpost on the range of topics that we are considering for proposals at upcoming conferences.) Here is a great example from Henrichsen at BYU. (It is not, strictly speaking, haptic--the learner does not have something to squeeze in his right hand--but it does beautifully illustrate the concept, using what we call the "Conversational Rhythm Fight Club" PMP.

"INTRA-diction" defined: 

On the spot, unplanned, brief attention to pronunciation (typically taking less than a minute)  during a lesson in any skill area, involving modelling, feedback and correction. That will usually involve providing the learner with a more appropriate model using a "pedagogical movement pattern" (a gesture that terminates in touch on a stressed syllable) and (probably) doing the word, phrase or sentence out loud, together with the learner 2 or 3 times. 

It brings together five ideas:

a. Introspection
b. Interdiction
c. Intra-personal
d. Inter-personal
e. Haptic anchoring

Try that. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mind-body Connections in Pronunciation Teaching

Clip art: Clker
For most, the systematic use of movement and gesture--or even haptic is now at least of interest (See, for example the work of ThornburyGilbert or Chan.) You really can't be very successful in this business without some somatic (body-based) technique to support or reinforce classroom instruction, even if that just means clapping hands occasionally to emphasize stress placement.

Show me an instructor who loves doing pronunciation work, however, and I'll almost always show you one who is at least an enthusiastic "gesticulator" but probably also a musician of some kind or avid exerciser! Every time I do that informal poll at a conference, the agreement is near 100% in the audience.

Still the best place to get a general understanding of the integration of mind and body in education and therapy is in psychotherapies such as Somatic Therapy: Somatic Therapy: Using the Mind–Body Connection to Get Results. (To access that 7-page primer, however, you'll have to sign on to; go to the "Free reports" tab and download a copy. No need; I've done that for you. I'll be reporting in later blogposts on some innovative and applicable techniques from that source.)

 It is instructive to read comments by clinicians who work in such holistic paradigms, especially to better understand why what we do works. In the piece, Wylie (p. 7) makes the following "prophetic"point--which applies to this field as well: " . . . somatic approaches may become sufficiently ordinary and acceptable that the line between “body psychotherapy” and “talk psychotherapy” may one day disappear entirely."

With emerging video and hapic methodology and technology, I'd only substitute "will" for "may"--and "very soon" for "one day!"

Thursday, April 3, 2014

AHEPS on 33 cents a day!

Package includes: 

(1) Student workbook Introduction and Module One sections in  PDF format download

(2) access for 30 days for Introduction and Module One AHEPS videos
  ***Each module involves 8-10 short video clips and 3 audio recordings of module dialogues.

(3) PDF of one additional module (your choice!) and access for 30 days. (PDF of the additional module and password sent w/in 3 days of purchase.)

*** At the end of 30 days, access may be extended for an additional $3.99 per month.
*** Purchase of additional modules includes access to all previous modules purchased.

Email after purchase to expedite delivery (via email) of the selected Module PDF and password. Indicate your choice of module:

Introduction Module (Included)
Module 1 - AHEPS haptic leaning (Included)
Module 2 - Short/single vowels and word stress (lax and tense)
Module 3 - Long/double vowels and phrasal stress (tense vowels + off glides and diphthongs)
Module 4 - Basic rhythm and rhythm groups
Module 5 - Basic intonation
Module 6 - Fluency and linking
Module 7 - Conversational speed/style
Module 8 - Advanced intonation/expressiveness
Module 9 - Baton integration (combing the work of modules 4, 5, 6 & 8)
Consonants (14 consonants)

For additional information on AHEPS, go to: -- or go directly to the GETONIC PopShop:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Future (pronunciation) Teaching and Learning? Gesture!

Barras of the BBC in the "Future Education column" this month has a select, light-weight, informal summary of research and opinion on the impact of systematic, body-assisted learning, entitled, "Want to learn quicker? Use your body!" Although the studies referenced have been reported on the blog previously, that is still a readable, almost fun piece, one you can pass on to those new to the idea of kinaesthetic and haptic engagement. Especially like this quote from Cook at the University of Iowa:

"In every study that we’ve tested the importance of gesturing, we’ve found it works,” she says. “Even in the experimental settings where we thought gesturing wouldn’t work.”

I'd paraphrase that this way: In every aspect of pronunciation or teaching context that we've tried "haptic," we've found it works!

So will you.

(Have not formally tried the depicted "inter-nasal" gesture, but who nose?)

Monday, March 31, 2014

TESOL 2014: Why didn't they mention THIS?

As evident in the previous post, it was a good conference for Hapticians and friends. If you work at it and go to a conference with focus, that'll always be the case. A few more post-Portland thoughts:

  • The 50/50 rule held. Half of the presentations you attend are good. Half of those involve something that you can take back to your school or classroom. (The other half you can still learn from!)
  • Of the roughly 2 dozen refereed presentations related to speaking, listening and pronunciation, a little more than half a dozen provided practical training and techniques. Three of those were haptic. (There were another couple dozen or so unrefereed publishers' sessions pitching books, software and materials.) The others were research-based.
  • The three haptic presentations (General workshop, intonation workshop and "fight club" demonstration) were not only packed, but fun. We have do much more of that.
  • The reaction to our haptic work was better than in the past, in part because we are getting better at presenting it. We are better now at scaffolding in the "body" training so that few in the audience cannot keep up. (Has taken us a long time to get that right.)
  • Haptic work is highly relational. At a conference, when you are trying to connect with your audience, that is great. In the classroom, using the haptic video system (AH-EPS) may be a better strategy, depending on your level of training in pronunciation teaching and the nature of the crowd in front of you. (See several earlier posts on that!)
  • Clip art;
  • The word, haptic, is finally getting out. That has been our primary objective for the last two years. It is apparently spreading a little better "horizontally" than "vertically" . . . After our workshop, one of the participants came up to me very much excited about what she had just experienced. She begins by commenting that the day before she had been to two workshops on pronunciation by "experts" in the field. Then (using emphatic gesture) she says:

 "Why didn't they mention THIS!!!"

Good question.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Good report on haptic presentations at TESOL 2014!

Haptic Thursday
at TESOL 2014
As mentioned in an earlier blogpost, on the first day of the conference we did all 4 "haptic" pronunciation teaching sessions back to back. (Fellow hapticians had submitted about 16 proposals; that 25% were accepted is about the average for TESOL.) A few general notes on the sessions and responses we received:

A. Audience response was, as usual--and for the most part--very enthusiastic!
B. In two of the sessions, the basic haptic workshop and fluency demonstration, the rooms were jammed with about 100+ people, with many not being able to get in.
C. In the haptic research session and the nonnative-speaker intonation sessions, there were between 30 and 50 participants. (The reference list from those is now available on the website." Many great comments and networking followed for the rest of the conference.

My favourite comments: "That was just . . . fun!" and "Best workshop I've gone to in years!" If you missed us, join us at Cornerstone University next weekend, BCTEAL and TESL Canada in May--or TESOL 2015 in Toronto next March!

Keep in touch!

TESOL 2015 Haptic Pronunciation Teaching Proposals!!!

Proposals are due by the first of June. Here is the list of tentative topics that we are considering for TESOL 2015 in Toronto:

  • Reports from the classroom: Haptic pronunciation teaching (academic sessions)
  • Research project on haptic-assisted fluency (paper)
  • Haptic-assisted Rhythm instruction (Butterfly and Fight club) workshop
  • Haptic phonetics (anchoring L1s in addition of L2s) demonstration
  • Haptic techniques for consonant repair (workshop)
  • (Haptic-enhanced) Embodied confidence (Research paper)
  • Haptically anchoring word stress rules and word stress (workshop)
  • Linking linking with fluency: haptic circles (mini-workshop)
  • Basics of haptic-integrated pronunciation teaching (1/2 day pre or post convention ticketed session)
  • From intonation to expressiveness: dramatic, haptic bridges for Non-native speakers
  • Haptic and kinaesthetic listening (Research paper)
  • On the spot, impromptu haptic pronunciation modelling, feedback and correction (workshop or research paper)
  • Haptic anchoring of Academic Word List vocabulary (demonstration or workshop)
  • Sentence diagramming with movement and touch (I did a demo of this that went great!)
  • Songs that touch on pronunciation: haptic anchoring of rhyme and reason (workshop)
  • Teaching pronunciation to young children (workshop)
  • Embodied conversational discourse markers (demonstration)
  • Phonics "a la haptique!" (demonstration or workshop)
  • Haptic Handwriting for L2 English learners (demonstration)
  • Embodied conversational listening: haptic anchoring of attending skills
  • Haptic self-monitoring

See anything you like? Even if the topic is of interest to you, I could at least connect you up with somebody who is interested in it or does it already.

Keep in touch!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Haptic Pronunciation Teaching Workshop at Cornerstone University!

If you are in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area on April 5th, please join us for a day-long training workshop on haptic pronunciation teaching at Cornerstone University. I'd especially recommend the workshop if you have little or no experience in teaching pronunciation (and little or no money!) And, as the subtitle proclaims, it will be FUN and INTERACTIVE! (I promise!)

13th Annual ESL Conference Details:

The ESL Conference at Cornerstone University is held to provide practical training opportunities for teachers in a variety of teaching situations. These workshops are appropriate for volunteer tutors and professional teachers, for K-12 and adult ESL teaching contexts, and for those teaching in academic, community, or church-based programs.

This year’s conference will feature a Haptic Pronunciation Instruction Workshop (making extensive use of movement, touch, and fun) for those with little or no training in pronunciation teaching. Whether you are a teaching novice or expert there will be something for everyone as we focus on new and exciting ways of teaching English to our students. Please join us for a day of learning, fellowship and encouragement!

Each participant will receive a teacher's guide with DVD, continental breakfast, and a boxed lunch. 
9:00 am     Haptic Learning
10:00 am     Vowels & Word Stress
11:00 am     Vowels & Phrasal/Compound Noun Stress
12:00 pm     Lunch (with breakout sessions)
1:00 pm     Rhythm and Rhythm Groups
2:00 pm     Intonation
3:00 pm     Consonants & Conversational Fluency
4:00 pm     Close


Before March 14th, 2014: $50 regular rate/$30 student rate
On or after March 14th, 2014: $60 regular rate/$35 student rate

TESOL-Portland 2014 "Haptic" Schedule!

Let's just call Thursday, Haptic Pronunciation Day, this week at the TESOL convention!

9:30 -11:15 - Convention Center, F152 - Workshop: Essentials of haptic (kinaesthetic+tactile)-integrated pronunciation instruction (Kielstra, Baker, Burri, Rauser, Teaman and Acton)

11:30 - 12:45 - Convention Center, Room F152 - Research-oriented session: Exploring research supporting haptic (movement + touch) pronunciation teaching (Rauser, Acton and Burri)

1:00 pm–2:45 - Convention Center, D134 - Workshop: Teaching basic English intonation by non-native English speaking teachers (Lam, Hong, and Takatsu)

3:00 pm–3:45 - Convention Center, B110 - Practice-oriented session: Speak fast; speak easy: The Fight Club technique (Kielstra and Teaman)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Situated, epistemologically "HIP," pronunciation teaching!

Clip art:
Hat tip to fellow Haptician, Angelina VanDyke of Simon Fraser University, for this great quote from Brown, Collins and Duguid (1998): 

"A theory of situated cognition suggests that activity and perception are important and epistemologically prior at a non-conceptual level - to conceptualization, and that it is on them that more attention needs to be focused. An epistemology that begins with activity and perception, which are first and foremost embedded in the world, may simply bypass the classical problem of reference-of mediating conceptual representations." (Brown, Collins and Duguid (1998) Situated Cognitions and the Culture of Learning, pp. 28, 29.)

Is that not us (HIP - Haptic-integrated Pronunciation)? Trying to successfully bypass the amount of "hyper-cognition" and "talk about" that often represents itself as sufficient or legitimate, effective pronunciation instruction can be a challenge. 

It's the old (live) chicken and egg (head) conundrum. By the time you finish your explanation (no matter how elegant, engaging and worthy of noticing it be), it is probably too late. 

Enough said . . . 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What students want: Real-time, on-the-spot, impromptu correction of pronunciation!

Credit: © Terence Mendoza
 / Fotolia
We just finished putting together a proposal to do a conference workshop:

Conducting On-the-spot Corrections of Rhythm, Stress and Intonation: Haptic Baton! 

"This workshop focuses on a haptic (movement + touch) technique for correcting and modelling pronunciation during any classroom activity—using a pencil, much like an orchestra conductor. The key is to include a set of “haptic anchors,” where the baton touches the other hand on stressed syllables of problematic words."

The point of the workshop is to develop a (haptic) technique that " . . . can be done in a relatively unobtrusive manner, a brief pause that provides clarity but will not seriously disrupt the flow or coherence of the classroom activity or lesson." Just ask your students if they'd like more impromptu correction of pronunciation . . . 
Now who knows if it will be accepted. (Haptic pronunciation proposals have about a 50/50 chance of being accepted. We still need to get the word out!) But a new study by Smith, Boomer, Zakrzewski, Roeder, Church, and Ashby of University of California, Santa Barbara.. "Deferred Feedback Sharply Dissociates Implicit and Explicit Category Learning,just summarized by Science Daily seems to add support to the use of "real-time" interventions--if done right, of course! 

In essence, what the research suggests is that deferred feedback does not connect well with implicit learning. (Well, actually, there is a great deal more to it than that! The research is actually looking at the nature of the two cognitive systems that we use to learn with, one explicit; the other, implicit.) When ongoing feedback on performance of a sorting task was suppressed or absent, implicit learning was dramatically impeded.

Your in-class, pronunciation teaching feedback protocols in need of a little correction? 

Keep in touch!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

NEW! Put some "PIP!" in your Pronunciation! (AH-EPS, one-on-one, Pronunciation Improvement Program!)

In this program (AH-PIP) you do a module in AH-EPS with workbook and DVDs or on, and then can connect up with an AH-EPS instructor to review what you have done and discuss what to do next. (Followed up by an email report on the consultation within 24 hours.)

We recommend doing an optional 30-minute SKYPE consultation after each module, at least at the beginning of the program.

Course package ($129 CAD, plus shipping) includes: 

(1)  A set of Teacher DVDs, plus one download of the Instructor's Guide.
(2)  A set of Student DVDs, plus one download of the Student Workbook. (You do need a hard copy of the workbook to do the course.) A hardcopy of the workbook is also available for $20 plus shipping:
(3)  One Initial, introductory 30-minute SKYPE consultation to evaluate your pronunciation work and explain the program.  
(4) The first, 30-minute SKYPE consultation (To be done after Module #1 work is completed.) 

One module takes about a week to complete, 1.5~2 hours. It is best to do one module per week, followed by an optional consultation, but do at least one module every two weeks.  SKYPE consultations are an additional $25 each. Total cost for the program, doing consultations after every module is $350, plus shipping. 

Also available is the AH-EPS Accent Reduction program for nonnative English speaking professionals and instructors.
For more information, email:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Anchoring with touch in haptic pronunciation teaching

Sometimes it becomes necessary to define what a method or system is NOT.(See Changing Minds list in that regard.)  In a recent discussion on a professional discussion board, EHIEP was characterized as involving excessive "interpersonal touching!" Nothing could be further from the truth. Even a cursory reading of the blog or the website (which the contributor had obviously not had time to get to) would dismiss that idea. In a nutshell (no reference to the earlier comment, of course) touch dramatically increases the efficacy of gesture, among other things. Here is a list of all the touching that goes on in EHIEP:

Clip art: Clker

  • Hands touch each other, sometimes with one hand holding a baton or pencil.
  • Hands touch either the shoulder or fore arm.
  • Hands may occasionally touch the chin or voice box.
  • Holding a coffee stirrer or tongue depressor, hands may touch lips, teeth or tongue. 

Even self-touch is "touchy" in all cultures, with many different interpretations and constraints. As you can see, the EHIEP pedagogical movement patterns (PMPs) set, where touch occurs on stressed syllables for the most part, is pretty safe stuff. We have spend years figuring out PMPs that are generally appropriate in the cultures we have worked in. So far so good.

If your find a PMP in the Demo list on the website that is potentially objectionable in some culture, PLEASE, let me know! (Will give you a free month's access as a reward!)

Keep in touch!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Deep learning: Giving (haptic) pronunciation teaching a hand!

A little applause, please! In a 2014 University of Chicago study by Novak and colleagues, reported in UChicago News by Ingmire (Sorry that I can't afford to pay the 6-vente-latte-equivalent to get the original article!), kids who hand-gesture more (of a certain kind) gain a " a deep understanding of the {math} problems they are taught . . . " That did not happen if they, instead, did some kind of "acting" or mime while trying to solve a math problem, however. Furthermore, “Abstract gesture was most effective in encouraging learners to generalize the knowledge they had gained during instruction (italics, mine), action least effective, and concrete gesture somewhere in between . . ."

The protocols of the study as described in the summary look like they were ripped off directly from our haptic-integrated pronunciation teaching pedagogical movement patterns: movements that had some symbolic meaning that connected to the problems at hand. (In HPT the connection is to sounds and sound patterns.)

One of the key issues in understanding how gesture works in supporting learning of any kind is unpacking in more "depth" just how/when the gesture is contributing or directing the process. In earlier posts I have looked at research in haptics that basically positions haptic as the "exploratory" sense. In this study we see how gesture itself--without explicit reference to whether touch--was involved: linking not just to abstract concepts but apparently facilitating later generalization from the event. Haptic anchoring--and I'm certain there was some of that involved--would further intensify the effect of the gestures.

As we get more field tests and research on the basics of haptic pronunciation teaching, we should also feel continually "freer" to generalize from research in several other fields as to the power and efficacy of haptic engagement.

Keep in touch!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Power Pronunciation: Posing as a confident English speaker!

Clip art: Clker
Power your way to better pronunciation? We have been aware for some time that one of the EHIEP protocols, what we often informally refer to as the "Rhythm Fight Club," is pretty potent stuff. Learners often report that using the technique, which requires one to play the role of something of a pugilist, not only helps them to speak more rhythmically, often within a day or so, but also increases confidence. A couple have even reported that they thought it was instrumental in helping them develop more assertive personas, in general. Now we know why . . .

You may have heard about the well known work of Professor Amy Cuddy of Harvard School of Business. Here is a TED talk she gave earlier and a recent article on her by Business insider. In part because I am an avid weight lifter, I have been using power posing for some time, myself, especially when I am away from the gym.

Add haptic anchoring to Cuddy Power Posing and you have an unbeatable combination. Literally!

In fact, I just get better all the time . . .

Keep in touch.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting pronunciation off your chest . . .

Photo: Vimeo via
This one is too good to pass up. (Hat tip to Brian Teaman!) Leave it to the MIT Media lab (and Heibeck, Hope and Legault) as reported by Kinder at the Telegraph to come up with a vest that will allow you to feel the emotional states of the characters in a book, what they call, "Sensory Fiction." Such "haptic vests" have been around for quite some time but this one is more closely tied to a narrative that can serve "pedagogical" purposes. With the vest on, you experience something of what the character is feeling through a combination of temperature and pressure changes.

All you need for our work is to plug in the audio track and stick on a few mini-speakers around the upper body to make it a great tool for getting the "felt sense" of a sound. Deliver that with a great voice with rich resonance (George Clooney?), especially in a text with a bit more emotional zip than your average pronunciation book. (No great challenge there, of course!) Finally, connect it up to the EHIEP pedagogical movement patterns (gestures + touch) and you have the perfect "Haptic Friction."

Got to get me one of those!

Keep in touch!