Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Haptic robot (clinical pronunciation) therapy?

Clip art: Clker
Leave it to the Italians to figure out how to do therapy with a "haptically endowed" robot! (There are, of course, occasions when one would prefer a hug or back rub from a robot, rather than the therapist or instructor at hand!) The character on the EHIEP logo, which we affectionately refer to as "EH-bot" was designed to embody the personna of a fun-loving, "hapticobot." The EHIEP system requires consistent, precise pedagogical movement patterns that are haptically anchored in the visual field. Another of the HICP pedagogical acronyms is: MAPLE (Maximally Attentive, Physically Laid back Engagement). Both the precision of robot-like gestures and the therapeutic (relaxed, confident) felt sense of the haptic anchoring contribute greatly to the efficacy of the system.

Students often report that just doing the vowels and fluency protocols can be very therapeutic. One of the serious misconceptions in pronunciation teaching is that motivation, "pedagogical gesticulation" (such as dance or drama) and enthusiasm are always positives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research cited in earlier posts showed convincingly that effective kinesthetic learning (which is the essence of pronunciation learning) is highly sensitive to distraction. In other words, it can be difficult to remember a sound or movement that was embedded in too many "fun and games." (Lexical items or terms, on the other hand, seem to survive a little better.) Turns out, EH-bot (the hapticobot) may be a surprisingly good model and deliverer of both quality pronunciation input--and appropriately enabling warm fuzzies--after all. Perhaps a more Italian moniker is in order? EH-Botticelli, it is!

1 comment:

Bill Acton said...

Here is a video of a slightly rusty EH-Bot who has the right idea . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5RekixAMoM

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