Friday, November 19, 2010

The "Change the Channel Fallacy"

Several years ago a colleague who worked in addiction counseling explained to me why many therapeutic approaches to addiction fail: they try to change the channel. By that he meant that the method may "simply" try to convince the brain to go for "good" pleasure rather than bad, like switching drugs--or exchange good thoughts for bad. That is why successful treatments are multi-modal, using some other channel from the one the addiction is logged into to eventually change the behavior or the problematic channel. In my view that is one of the key reasons that pronunciation work can fail as well: (simply) trying to substitute sounds, in the auditory track. That is why, in many cases, cognitive and meta-cognitive "treatments" or instructional focus can be successful--depending on the modality preferences of the learner. That is also why, haptic engagement seems to work.

Both kinesthetic (movement) and tactile (touch)are, for most, secondary channels which can be trained without directly confronting the primary processing channels, whether visual or auditory. Ironically and somewhat counter intuitively, for a highly visual learner, a strong auditory training focus may work, or vice versa. One the principles of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) which I have found most helpful is: for maximum effect, try to anchor a sensation in a learner's secondary or tertiary channel, not primary. How you figure out what that means in a big class is a matter for another post, but you see/hear/feel/are moved or touched by the idea?

1 comment:

Bill Acton said...

Here is an example of an attempt to "change the channel" in dealing with fossilized pronunciation: http://www.jlls.org/Issues/Volume1/No.2/mehmetdemirezen.pdf

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