Sunday, March 18, 2012

PTSD?-2: Embodied learning vs learning, embodied

To quote Jean-Luc Godard, ‘It’s not where you take things from — It’s where you take them to.’  There is an excellent piece in this month's TESOL Quarterly by Randal Holme, "Cognitive Linguistics in the Second Language Classroom," which, among other things, focuses the issue of the role of the body in L2 pedagogy. In fact, the first section of the article is entitled, "The Embodied Learning Principle." In essence (to somewhat overgeneralize--Do read this yourself!), what Holme argues--persuasively, I think--is that in order to be "learned," new language has to end up "in the body," that is (from our perspective) strongly anchored, (but from the Cognitive Linguist's perspective, for the most part, that means--in the brain.) It is most importantly a question of directionality of the process: language being essentially "embedded" in the body through any number of portals, including metaphor and affective engagement. He does, in fact, mention a few "kinaesthetic" techniques that appear to facilitate the process, such as clapping hands, etc., but he is in some sense, using Jean-Luc's principle: it is not as critical how the language is taught, just that it gets "embodied." I like that, as far as it goes. Our perspective, however, is that pronunciation teaching must begin as a much more embodied process (Train the body first!)--not just  result in an embodied felt sense and L2 identity. In other words, he has it at least half right. But instead of just "embodied learning" (the L2 embodied as outcome), we would maintain that it must also be "learning, embodied," a strongly somatically-based process that, among other things, enables language acquisition. Progress! 

1 comment:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

Thank you for sharing Holme (2012) - he is right on!

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