Sunday, July 20, 2014

From accurate to fluent pronunciation: AHEPS v3.0 "Bee and Butterfly!"

Clip art: 
by Clker

There are a number of changes and additions in v3.0, including:
  • New Modules 2, 3 and 4, available in 4 versions: General North American English, Canadian, British and Australian English
  • EHIEP charts of the basic vowel systems of 10 learner L1s, included for haptic transitioning to English (including, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, German, French, Thai, Punjabi and Vietnamese), plus 3 US dialects
  • Haptic pronunciation homework system
  • Classroom haptic pronunciation "correction" strategies
  • A new module on teaching unstressed vowels
  • A new module for teaching linking
  • Integrating haptic pronunciation with vocabulary teaching
  • Integrating haptic pronunciation with public speaking
  • Additional consonant modules 
v3.0 is set up so that it can be used either as a whole system--10 modules each taking about a week to complete--or one module at a time. A module typically includes a basic 30-minute haptic training video that can be done in or out of class, and then up to 2 hours of optional, video-based practice to be done in or out of class as well. Ideally, after the 30-minute introductory video, the instructor then just uses the new strategies from that point on in class in modelling, providing feedback on pronunciation and vocabulary. 
  • 4 "Bee," accuracy-focus modules (using vowels and word stress)
  • 4 "Bee and Butterfly" modules that involve both accuracy and fluency (using phrasal grouping, linking and tone units)
  • 2 "Butterfly" modules that transition to fluency (using expressiveness and conversational speed work)

If you are using v1.0 or v2.0 you will automatically be sent the upgrades to v3.0. If you are not using either yet, now would be a good time to get v2.0 at reduced prices--and still get free upgrade when v3.0 is available! (discounts on v2.0 are available by contacting info@actonhaptic.com.) 

By January, 2014, v3.0 should also be accessible by subscription. 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Stop assigning pronunciation homework! (Unless it is systematic and you follow up on it!)

Clip art: Clker
Time to check your homework . . . How's this for a formula for success: Instruction (in class, f2f or online) + out-of-class-work + student ability and initiative. You with me so far? The key factor is often said to be the last one, which entails motivation and a number of other more personal variables, including being organized and disciplined. 

It is always good to have "just blame the student" (or his or her genes) on the list of legitimate excuses for lack of progress. It is, of course, the insidious flip side of metacognitive practice: train the learner how to manage his or her learning in and out of class--and then he or she is on his or her own. 

How does your homework or out of class practice regimen work? How do you know? Do you care? 

As reported is several other blogposts, the research on homework is extensive (in the field of Education and others) and all over the map. Every disciple speaks to that process is some fashion, even car manufacturing

Many intensive language programs (20+ hours per week) program in systematic practice on site or online that involve monitoring and assessment. Good for them. I'm only interested here in instruction where pronunciation is not the sole focus of the class but is integrated into other skill and content teaching. (Haptic-INTEGRATED)

Just as an example, a guideline, here is the general EHIEP approach:

Systematic homework practice is "the bottom line" of Essential Haptic-integrated English Pronunciation (EHIEP) teaching system. Basically, when a word or phrase containing a problematic sound or sound process (e.g., rhythm, stress, juncture or intonation) is targeted it should be assigned to a list of some kind and briefly practiced by the learning outside of class about six times over the course of two weeks. (To understand what targeting and "haptic practice" is about in this method, check out the general description on the website.) The practice times and work done should also be noted in some kind of journal or "pronunciation log" for continuous review by the instructor. 

We should do a book on this--or at least develop a good comment thread on the topic below! There is a new appendix in AHEPS, v3.0 (rolling out this fall) on homework protocols. 

Keep in touch--and do your homework.






Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stop practicing pronunciation! (If your students can explore it!)

This is a follow up on, "Stop correcting pronunciation! (If your students can afford it!)," based on a post by Tabaczynski. Question: Does (more) practice make perfect, or at least make one better than the competition? A couple recent summaries of meta-analyses by Science Digest add support to Tabaczynksi's argument, suggesting . . . well . . . maybe not so much.

Macnamara, Hambrick and Oswald (2014) note that: 

"Practice accounted for about 26% of individual differences in performance for games, about 21% of individual differences in music, and about 18% of individual differences in sports. But it only accounted for about 4% of individual differences in education and less than 1% of individual differences in performance in professions."

Stafford and Dewar (2013) add that: 

"Game play data revealed that those players who seemed to learn more quickly had either spaced out their practice or had more variable early performance -- suggesting they were exploring how the game works -- before going on to perform better."

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Clker
Haptic pronunciation teaching methodology certainly aims to be more embodied, incorporating frameworks and techniques from gaming, music and sports. It is also pretty consistent with Tabaczynski's "(schematic) buckets and spaced (practice and scaffolded) retrieval" proposal.

Think I'll stop right there . . .



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stop correcting pronunciation! (If your students can afford it!)

Clip art: Library
 of Congress
Good post by Tabaczynski, Counselling Paradigm in Language Teaching that seems very in line with where the field, in general, is headed. Here is his bottom line:

"I would suggest that instead of correcting we simply provide feedback. Students, I would argue, need feedback rather than correction. . . . the idea is that the development of language is non-linear, dynamic, and emergent, a product of the interaction of several systems . . .  I suggest that the task of teaching is providing external scaffolding systems of ‘buckets’ to collect information and manage spaced out retrieval practice."

Just as an aside, what does "correct" mean anyway?  According to Merriam Webster's, a range of things, such as:
  • to make or set right 
  • to alter or adjust so as to bring to some standard or required condition 
  • to punish (as a child) with a view to reforming or improving
  • to point out usually for amendment the errors or faults of
Got to be a better way (or at least metaphor) than that! Simple question, however: How might such a "spaced out buckets" approach work for you and your students? 

It would, of course,  be one thing were your students to be working on their English near full time in an academic preparation program (EAP.) That is especially the case when most students have good financial resources behind them or have the academic training or guidance to manage their learning and work with "strategies"--or even have time to think about them (as are most of Tabaczynski's students and thousands in the developed world like them.)

But how about if you have only minimal time and training to assist with pronunciation or attention to form in general, your students are not really very--or at all--"meta," they can not even afford textbooks, and they are in a class of 50 that meets only an hour or two a week? Might you still not be (justifiably) tempted to "kick the bucket" in favour of more direct, traditional "pointing out" or "punishing with a view to improving?"

My point. Today, where learners can afford it--especially with computer-assisted and better trained instructor support-- things look promising. For those who can't or whose programs won't, as Tabaczynski argues persuasively, with the current additional cognitive overlay of underlying behaviourists' reinforcement, extinction metaphors and methods, they may well be even worse off . . .

The answer, you ask? Next post, I'll address one (moving and touching) solution to this emerging "rags or riches" conundrum in the field. Perhaps we also need a new mantra: Pedagogical Justice for incorrect Pronunciation!

Keep in touch!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Conducing feelings and emotions with vowels!

How's this for an opening line of a new Science Daily summary of 2014 research by Rummer and Grice entitled, Mood is linked to vowel type: The role of articulatory movements: "Ground-breaking experiments have been conduced (sic) to uncover the links between language and emotions." (Love that possible typo, "conduced," by the way--maybe something of a portmanteau between conduct and conduce perhaps? That actually unpacks the study quite well! To "conduce" means to "lead to a particular result." Science can be like that, eh!

Basically what they discovered was that if you have subjects do something like bite on a pencil (so that they come up with a smile, of sorts) or just keep repeating the high front vowel /i/ that has that
Clip art:
Clker
articulatory setting while they watch a cartoon, they tend to see things as more amusing. If, on the other hand,  you have them stick the end of that pencil in their mouth so that they develop an extreme pucker, or keep repeating the vowel /o/, they tend to see things as less amusing

So? It has been known for decades that vowels do have phonaesthetic qualities. (See several previous blog posts.) The question has always been . . . but why? The conclusion: Because of what the facial muscles are doing while the vowel is articulated, especially as it relates to non-lexical (non word) emotional utterances. Could be, but they should have also tossed in some controls, some other vowels, too, such as having subjects use a mid, front unrounded vowel such as /ae/, as in "Bad!"-- or a high front rounded vowel, such as /ü/, as "Uber," the web-based taxi service, or a high back unrounded vowel. 

As much as I like the haptic pencil technique, which I use myself occasionally (using coffee stirs, however) for anchoring lip position with those vowels and others, there is obviously more going on here, such as the phonaesthetic qualities of the visual field. Also consider the fact that the researchers appear to be ethnically German, perhaps seriously compromising their ability to even perceive "amusing" in the first place, conducing them into that interpretation of the results. 
 
Nonetheless, an interesting and possibly useful study for us, more than mere "lip" service, to be sure. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Prompt (haptic) pronunciation prompting: Why does that work?

This post is an edited repost of a piece I posted on a list-serve recently, "The dark side of real-time, spontaneous pronunciation correction & feedback." Haptic anchoring of pronunciation change, where we have learners move and speak along with us, would probably be technically termed a type of "prompting" (Lyster and Saito, 2010). The question posed in the post is: How can you know when or why feedback works, based on research studies where what students knew or had been taught before the feedback event is not adequately specified? (In AH-EPS haptic pronunciation work, which emphasizes in-class spontaneous feedback, that connection is fundamental.) 
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Have been working through the various studies and meta-analyses of corrective feedback in pronunciation teaching, (e.g., Lyster and Saito, 2010) looking for one feature: What did the students know about the feature in focus before the intervention and when did they learn about it? In other words, if learners have been introduced to the vowels system in some way, we probably will assume that in class correction or feedback on a specific vowel (or even out of class self correction) has a better chance of working. 
 
In all of the studies I have reviewed so far that investigate the range of feedback mechanisms, both in lab settings and in classrooms, I can find almost nothing that adequately characterizes the assumed cognitive schemata or understanding of the learners relative to that phonological feature prior to receiving some kind of feedback. It is occasionally referenced in passing, for example, that students, “had been introduced to X earlier, etc.,” but never in any systematic analysis.  The irony of contemporary theory giving such credence, prima facie, to “behaviours” without reference to what learners may be bringing to the party, must be enough to make the ghosts of Skinner, Lado and friends smile.

Haptic pronunciation work is based on prior, systematic introduction of specific features of the sound system before classroom intervention.  (Some of that is very much “Gilbertesque” in nature.) 

Do you know of an accessible study of classroom correction/feedback where the description of the formal pedagogical approach in place prior to the classroom “event” (or just what students are assumed to have known about the target) is sufficiently detailed and explicit so that the connection between formal (or even informal) presentation/knowledge – intervention--and effect or change is at least traceable? 
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I didn't think so . . .  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Up standing (haptic) pronunciation teaching!

Early on we realized that at least for orientation and training where the primary goal of instruction is improved oral production of English, having adult or young adult students standing up for haptic pronunciation work is at least better, probably essential in most cases. If the focus is vocabulary development or when working with children, explicit training in the pedagogical movement patterns may not be critical. (See earlier posts on "kinesthetic/kinaesthetic listening," for example.)

Once the pedagogical movement patterns are introduced, whether using the AH-EPS haptic videos or done by the instructor "in person," using them for subsequent modelling, feedback and correction can be very effective.

Clip art:
Clker
A new study by Knight and Baer of Washington University,  as reported in Science Daily,* adds support to such "up standing" practice. In essence, during a problem solving task, teams of subjects were assigned to teams such that they, " . . . worked in rooms that either had chairs arranged around a table or with no chairs at all." Not surprisingly--from our perspective at least-- " . . . team members were less protective of their ideas; this reduced territoriality and led to more information sharing . . . (they) also seemed more efficient and purposeful."

A good opportunity to experience the "vertical" side of haptic pronunciation teaching, of course, would be the upcoming August workshop!

*I have had several inquires as to why I cite Science Daily summaries, rather than the research publication itself. Three reasons: First, many of the studies are inaccessible if you are not at an institution that subscribes to the journal. I will not ask a reader to simply trust my interpretation of research at face value without being able to get to it independently. Second, many newly published articles cost at least the equivalent of 7 Starbucks Vente Carmel Frappuccinos--where I draw the line. Third, the SD summaries are not always deadly accurate but are generally very readable, often entertaining and understandable to the non-technical reader. As always, Science Daily, caveat emptor!









Monday, June 16, 2014

9 ways to add more confidence to your pronunciation teaching!

There have been several earlier posts focusing from different perspectives on the role of confidence in pronunciation learning and teaching. Most of the research cited involved some type of physical action or physical response that functioned to make the speaker immediately more confident. You may start off with something of a gender gap, but here are some possibilities:


Any other suggestions to add to the list?



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One-day, Haptic Pronunciation Teaching Workshop in Vancouver! - CANCELLED!

Due to scheduling conflicts, we have cancelled the workshop. (For those who registered earlier, you should have received your refund by now. If not, please let me know asap!) There is a good chance that the workshop will, instead, be offered as 2, 3-hour webinars. An announcement on that should be out sometime next month!
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Here is the description of the workshop:

How long does it take your body to learn how to teach pronunciation more haptically? About 8 hours! The first of the new one-day, Acton Haptic English Pronunciation System (AH-EPS), training sessions for instructors will take place on August 9th in Vancouver, BC.

Morning (9~12)
A. Haptic learning preliminaries
B. Vowels and word stress
C. Rhythm and phrase grouping
D. Intonation
Afternoon (1~6)
E. Fluency and linking
F. Expressiveness
G. Consonants
H. Haptic-integrated teaching method

$100 fee includes Seminar workbook (as PDF download) and web access to model videos of techniques presented.  Venue: Sandman Signature Hotel, Langley, BC. Depending on number of registrants, hardcopies of handouts and lunch may be included as well. Training and practice videos, AH-EPS Student work and Instructor Guide available after the Workshop at discount prices.

For more information or if you'd like to host one in your neighbourhood, too: info@actonhaptic.com




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Visual "Socailization" and visual pronunciation teaching methods

In a recent interview, Robert Thomson, chief executive officer of News Corp, commented on the far reaching impact of "visual socialization" on today's media and news organizations. One observation was that we are only beginning to understand the new,  overwhelming dominance of visual learning, what that means to both social connectedness and education. To get a feel for what visual connectedness and "Socail media" may be like, watch this "Socail Cave" video by Tiazzoldi or even check it out on Pinerest.
Photo credit: Moses Lam

Well . . . yes, there may be a bit of  random "dys-graphia" involved there, but the two pieces together do underscore Thomson's point, the all consuming influence of visual media. I may just adopt that acronym: SOCAIL? (So, Over-the-top  visual-Cognitive pronunciation teaching really Ain't It, Lads?) 

It is easy to underestimate the impact on our work. There are several methods or companies that appear to be more explicitly visual, such as "EyeSpeakEnglish.com." How well the new "visually socialized" generations of learners (VSLs) can learn pronunciation, can connect up sound and movement to their primary learning modality, visual imagery, is, of course, the question. In general, research and practice up to this point suggests that visual dominance simply overrides not only auditory but tactile as well. (See--literally--dozens of previous blog posts here on that topic!) 

My guess is that many highly visual pronunciation teaching methods (that do not involve strong compensatory auditory and movement components by design) are anachronisms, at best, created before the the emergence of new media and VSLs, overcompensating for earlier attraction of "colourful" or engaging visual images on those who had not experienced them previously. 

The antidote? (And I could provide anecdotes ad infinitum, of course.) Haptic. Keep in touch. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Great Haptic Pronunciation Teaching Proposals for TESOL 2015!

Photo credit: Clker
Toronto in March?
Here is a list of "haptic" proposals with summaries that are being submitted for TESOL this year (March 2015 in Toronto.) Very impressive, eh!
A. Haptic (English) Pronunciation Teaching Workshop
This workshop introduces a set of six haptic (movement + touch)-based techniques for presenting and correcting English L2 pronunciation, applicable for intermediate English language learners and above. Guided by research on kinaesthetic approaches to L2 pronunciation instruction, the presenters train participants to use the instructional techniques in their classrooms.
B. Haptic (movement plus touch) Pronunciation Techniques for English Consonant Repair
This workshop presents haptic-based (movement plus touch) techniques for improving pronunciation of select English consonants. Included are: th/th, f/v, l/n, r, s/z, sh/zh, y, w, n/ng, t/d, voiced final consonants, consonant clusters and initial consonant aspiration. It is appropriate for relatively inexperienced instructors of middle-school age learners and older.
C. Accented, Confident Asian Female Professional L2 Identity: Rhythm Fight Club
In this workshop, after examining current theory on L2 identity related to Asian professional women and embodiment theory, participants work through a series of haptic-based (movement and touch) exercises, including a set of speaking/rhythm-based exercises, which provides a powerful anchor for shifting into more confident and accented professional English.
D. Conducting on-the-spot Corrections of Rhythm, Stress and Intonation: Haptic Baton
This practice-orientation session focuses on a haptic (movement + touch) technique for correcting and modelling pronunciation during any classroom activity—using a pencil, 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.
E. Anchoring Academic Word list “families” with Haptic-integrated Pronunciation Techniques
Haptic-integrated (movement and touch) pronunciation techniques are recognized as a valuable, engaging tool for helping learners practice and remember target vocabulary. This workshop focuses on the EAP application of that process to more efficiently learn terms from Coxhead’s Academic Word List, a core component of academic discourse. 
F. Pragmatics in Teaching Oral Skills: Haptic-Enhanced Attending Skills Training
Being able to better facilitate development of pragmatic competence with ELLs is a priority of most programs. This workshop gives participants experience in combining attending skills training with haptic (movement + touch) - based pronunciation teaching techniques to enhance use of conversational strategies and responses appropriate to a variety of socio-cultural contexts.
G. Haptic instruction and L2 fluency development
This paper presents the findings of an empirical, classroom-based research project that investigated the impact of haptic (movement and touch) pronunciation instruction on second language learners’ fluency and comprehensibility. Implications for L2 pronunciation research and pedagogy, including practical tips for enhancing learner fluency, will be discussed.
H. Teaching linking with touch and Tai Chi
In this workshop participants are trained in a set of haptic (movement + touch) techniques for helping learners better understand linking in oral speech and produce basic linking of vowels and consonants between words in English. The workshop is based on the Acton Haptic Essential English Pronunciation System.
I.  “Learning vowel sounds through haptic (movement and touch) anchoring”
This session is for English Language teachers who want to explore haptic (touch + movement) approaches to teaching the pronunciation of English vowels. Participants will experience the Matrix, the Vowel Clock, and the Unstressed Vowel Thumb War and learn how these techniques can be integrated into their own teaching contexts.
J. "Haptic phonetics for pronunciation teaching"
In this practice-oriented session, a haptic-based (movement plus touch) phonetic system is presented for use in teaching English pronunciation. Each sound pattern is represented by the sound coming from the articulatory muscles and vibrators,  position(s) in the visual field in front of the learner, and a specifically designed gesture.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Why use of gesture often does not work in pronunciation teaching--and when it does!


Clip art by
One of the strengths of haptic pronunciation instruction is that the use of touch on stressed syllables, accompanying gesture, makes kinaesthetic learning more systematic and effective. For a number of reasons, simply kinaesthetic or gesture-based techniques that do not attend to touch may or may not work in any classroom.

Clker
A. Part of the problem is the natural selection involved in those who love teaching pronunciation; part of the problem, what we use gesture for or what it is synchronized with. Many "natural" pronunciation teachers are what I'd call "hyper-gesticulators," highly expressive themselves and, in part because of their ability to connect verbally and nonverbally with students, they are able to get students to do some pretty strange out-of-the-box stuff. They can be very successful in their classroom, themselves, but their method often may not transfer all that well to "newbees" and the less "gesticulate." (I am presently putting together a book proposal that will examine in depth strongly paralinguistic and gesture-based methods of several like-minded, clinical practitioners.)

B. And the fact that in English, as in most languages in varying ways, gesture and physical movement can serve as a motivator or "exuberator." In other words, physical action, by itself, helps motivate learners and loosen them up to instruction, etc. (Some instructors tend to lean of cheerleading to a fault in motivating students.) Hence the problem for systematic work w/gesture: what can motivate on the one hand (no pun intended there!) can, on the other hand, seriously undermine focus and attention to specific sound-movement targets in instruction.

C. And more. There is a great deal of research on the neurophysiological basis and clinical application of  "emotional control." See, for example, this summary from the website Psychologyinaction.org.  The bottom line, for our work, is that both lack of emotional and physical engagement--as well as uncontrolled, over-exuberance physically and emotionally--can be about equally counterproductive. Our experience in the classroom in 4 years of field testing certainly confirms that. Often a very outgoing, verbal and physically expressive learner may still have substantial difficulty both in mirroring the pedagogical movement patterns and achieving satisfactory improvement in pronunciation or accent.

D. In addition, one of the reasons for the sometimes inconsistent results in using gesture in teaching in general, especially for the more eidetic-visual learner or instructor (those with near photographic memories), is that if the position of the gesture varies even slightly upon repeated application, it can be very frustrating for them, nearly impossible to interpret to respond to.

The solution, or at least one haptic pronunciation teaching approach (EHIEP/AH-EPS), is to carefully control or manage movement and gesture work so that even the most reticent will join in and the emotionally overreactive will be throttled back, at least temporarily. (See also a new research summary by ScienceDaily of work by McGlone of Liverpool John Moores University in England and colleagues on the connection of "soft touch" to emotion.) How can you do that?

For a (moderately) good time, one that involves extensive use of touch as well as gesture, go to www.actonhaptic.com!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New pronunciation teaching videos by Adrian Underhill!

Credit: Youtube.com
Macmillan has just released the first of Adrian Underhill's new pronunciation teaching video series. Here is the announcement from his blog, AdrianPronChart.wordpress.com. Adrian has always been one very tuned in to the visual/physical side of pronunciation teaching. His Pronunciation Chart is excellent. Aspects of that framework were instrumental in the design of the Essential Haptic-integrated English Pronunciation (EHIEP) framework.

The complete video series, planned to be 35, 3-minute videos should be a good complement to the Acton Haptic English Pronunciation System (AH-EPS) haptic video program. Knowing Underhill, it will, I'm sure, provide a thorough and entertaining presentation for both teachers and learners. (Once a little more of it is available, I'll review it in depth and link it to our work.)

What he typically does well is provide understanding of key elements of (British) pronunciation for learners and instructors, a wide range of applicable techniques--especially kinaesthetic--and practice opportunities/guidelines following from that. If that is what you are looking for, you probably cannot find a better video-based source. (If you are still more dead-tree-bound, Gilbert's work is my recommendation as a good place to begin.)

By contrast, for a number of reasons, AH-EPS:

  • Does not do as much explicit explanation and metacognitive management
  • Is haptic-based rather than kinaesthetic
  • Presents a more restricted set of formal features to work with
  • Uses a vowel chart that is the mirror image of the AdrianPronChart
  • Focuses on doing some limited teaching for the instructor, in class
  • Sets up impromptu, spontaneous modelling and correction of pronunciation
  • Is designed primarily for instructors with little or no background in pronunciation teaching

A most welcome addition. Check it out.





Friday, May 16, 2014

(Haptic) pair-a-linguistic pronunciation teaching

Clip art: Clker
Saw a recent discussion thread that (incorrectly) identified gesture as a paralinguistic feature of speech. That term, paralanguage, typically refers to pitch, loudness, rate and fluency. Gesture or body movement may be synchronized with speech in a way that it can reflect some aspect of paralanguage, as in when arm gesticulating is coordinated with the stress or rhythm pattern, such that a baton-like gesture comes down on key points for emphasis in a lecture, etc.

Actually, I like that idea, combing or pairing (haptic-anchored) gesture with paralanguage. In EHIEP work we do something of that with pitch, rate and fluency, using special gestures terminating in touch, what we refer to as pedagogical movement patterns (PMPs), that function to control those three features of speech in various ways (typically done in either modelling or error correction or expressive oral reading of fixed texts). To see a demonstration of each go to the Demo page on the AH-EPS website:

pitch - the Expressiveness PMP
rate - the Rhythm Fight Club PMP
fluency - the Tai Chi Fluency PMP

We have yet to figure out an effective PMP for loudness. If you can think of one . . . give us a shout!

Keep in touch.


Monday, May 12, 2014

NEW! AHEPS v2.0 Haptic Pronunciation Training videos available for download!

For the first time, individual AHEPS haptic training videos are now downloadable. Each of the AHEPS modules focuses on one techniques, what we term pedagogical movement patterns (PMPs). Each module involves basically 6 procedures: (a) a warm up, (b) review of previous module, (c) a demonstration of the PMP/technique, (d) a 5-minute training video, (e) a 2-minute practice video, and a short conversation to practice with. 

If you'd like to work on just a specific PMP, all you need to do is go the the New AHEPS training videos page, check the (free) demonstration video, look over the description page for that PMP, and then download training video:

Acton Haptic English
Pronunciation System
(AHEPS)
  • Matrix (use of gesture in the visual field) training 
  • Warm up training 
  • Single (Rough/short) vowels training  
  • Double (Smooth/long) vowels training    
  • Syllable Butterfly training
  • Basic Intonation training
  • Advanced Intonation training
  • Tai Chi Fluency training
  • Rhythm Fight Club training
  • Baton Speaking Integration training
Training videos for consonants will be added gradually over the next three months. 

v3.0 (Fall 2014 or Spring 2015) will probably be both download and subscription-based. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gesture to teach L2 vocabulary (and pronunciation) by!

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Clker
Required reading: New, 2014 article by Macedonia (University of Linz) and Klimesch (University of Salzburg), published in Mind, Brain and Education 8 (2): 74-86, entitled, "Long-term Effects of Gestures on Memory for Foreign Language Words Trained in the Classroom." In essence what the study revealed (or confirmed) was--as the title declares--that systematic use of gesture, especially dramatic and iconic gesture, enhanced long term memory for vocabulary. The comprehensive literature review on the function of gesture in learning and memory alone makes the piece worth reading.

Although from the description of the treatment in the experiment it is not entirely clear just how many of the gestures involved touch, those that were used were reported to be generally dramatic and/or iconic (representing an object by tracing its shape in the air). Words learned with accompanying gesture were remembered better, even 4 months out in the follow up.

And the fascinating aspect of that research for out haptic work is that the terms were learned generally in short phrases or as single words in isolation, out of any context such as a story, conversation or other narrative. Our upcoming workshop at TESL Canada this weekend in Regina focuses on just that: haptic (gesture +touch) anchoring of relatively out of context terms taken from the Academic Word List. Good to have a little more empirical evidence for the efficacy of gestural anchoring with us as we do!

Keep in touch!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vancouver Haptic Pronunciation Teaching Seminar - Cancelled!

Photo credit: 604now.com
We had planned on holding a 5-day, 40-hour, Haptic Pronunciation Teaching Seminar in Vancouver, August 4th through 8th, 2014. The plan now is to offer it again, next year at about the same time and place. (Announcement will be made later this fall!)
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The description:

By the end of the seminar, participants will be fully trained in haptic pronunciation teaching and certified to conduct teacher training using the Essential Haptic-integrated English Pronunciation System (EHIEP) and Acton Haptic English Pronunciation System (AH-EPS), the haptic video system. The venue will be the Sandman Hotel, Langley, BC, just east of Vancouver. (Hotel rates, about $130 CAD daily.)

Cost per participant: $2000 (includes breakfasts and materials.) Group discounts available.

The general structure will be:

Monday a.m. - Preliminaries and Research review
Monday p.m. - Visual field management and haptic warm ups
Tuesday a.m. - Haptic phonetics
Tuesday p.m. - English vowels and words stress schema
Wednesday a.m. - Rhythm
Wednesday p.m. - Pitch and fluency
Wednesday evening - Public seminar
Thursday a.m. - Basic Intonation
Thursday p.m. - Discourse intonation
Friday a.m. - English consonants
Friday p.m. - Teacher training protocols
Friday evening - Party 

Minimum number of participants: 12; maximum, 24
We will be accepting applications until June 1st. $500 deposit due by June 15th. It the training seminar is not fully enrolled by June 15th, deposits will be returned.

If you are interested in attending, please contact us at info@actonhaptic.com. The training seminar is open to all ESL/EFL instructors who have at least two years teaching experience and recognized formal training in ESL/EFL teaching methodology. Preliminary SKYPE interview and professional references may be required.



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Post-method Pronunciation Teaching and Research: Myths and (Haptic) Method

To understand something of the conundrum faced by teachers new to pronunciation work today, you probably need to begin with Kumaravadevilu's (2003) initial characterization of the "Post-method" era, or, even better, Kumaravadevilu (2007). That, along with a great new book just out, Pronunciation Myths, edited by Grant and Brinton, provides a good perspective on the question. 
Clip art:
Clker

In essence, the first (a) builds a compelling case for the idea that no one method can possibly work in all contexts and (b) provides a set of 10 strategies for, in essence, building your own personal classroom teaching method--while at the same time warning that an inflexible "method" is to be avoided at all costs. In part that is because the only way you can test a method is to try it yourself, in your classroom. And also you must--at least temporarily--believe the "testimonies" of those who use it, while you test it. 

The second, "Myths," while thoroughly dispensing with several common misconceptions (and a few "straw men") about pronunciation teaching, provides a very useful review of the range of research-tested techniques that have, in fact, been shown to be effective. (I count 40 or 50 discrete techniques or variants in all.) 

Add to those two the current theoretical perspective that pronunciation must to the extent possible be integrated into general instruction and you have the post-method conundrum: How do I personally assemble the techniques that can be integrated and will work in my (unique) classroom? (Murphy's chapter in "Myths" addresses that issue quite well in fact.) 

What we refer to as "Haptic-integrated pronunciation teaching" is, in fact, a method based on the use of a wide range of well-established and proven techniques. (All reported in "Myths!") What makes it different is just that (a) the techniques are generally anchored (or reinforced) using movement and touch--based on multiple "haptic" studies in other disciplines, and (b) the method focuses principally on modelling, feedback and correction--and to some extent integration into spontaneous speech. Those are dimensions of pronunciation teaching that have been studied extensively in "the lab" but not in the classroom, especially in terms of long term improvement. 

And to finish up the post-modern stew: EHIEP (Essential Haptic-integrated English Pronunciation)  work is essentially experiential, both learning with it and about it. The best evidence that we have now that the method, itself, "works" are about a decade of reports from students in the classroom and related research from a dozen other disciplines. The same is the case with all methods, of course. 

For a number reasons, it is exceedingly difficult to test a method, among them the fact that no matter what the results, in today's "hyper-localized" theoretical view of methodology,  the nature of the learner population may radically limit generalizability. Few if any classroom studies or action research in pronunciation teaching provide much in the way of detail as to how the techniques or treatments were actually conducted or relate to the other instruction or ongoing experiences that students/subjects were involved in at the time of the study.  

Theoretically, one should, of course, be able to generalize from the local. (That is, after all the raison d’etre for the dominance of qualitative research in the field currently.) In practice, research is today still so thoroughly “critical-agenda-driven” that general applicability of methodology cannot be of interest. In time, in depth studies of one teacher's method will again be in fashion and doctoral dissertations. (I'm working on a book proposal that will do something like that.) 


For the time being . . . Just do it!