Thursday, June 28, 2012

Write off anxiety about problematic pronunciation?

Clipart: Clker

Clipart: Clker
In our continuing series about dealing with stress associated with pronunciation change, here's another possible technique suggested by research by Ramirez and Beilock on mediating test anxiety. (Something analogous is often suggested in recommendations on the use of pronunciation "logs" or "diaries," as well.) In their study, they found that " . . . The students who aired their anxieties (in writing) showed an average 5% improvement on the second test, whereas the others broke under pressure and their scores dropped by 12% . . . the cathartic effect of writing about your emotions is exemplified by blues music. Putting your thoughts and feelings down has been shown to increase emotional and even physical well-being," Of course, if not managed right, that could be also be a pronunciation-pedagogical "Pandora's Box," but that function is basic to all effective change process. In a very real sense, the act of "embodying" the concerns regularly in a notebook probably contributes much more than the comments in reply made by the instructor. (I'd even go so far as to say that the physical, kinaesthetic act of doing that on on paper with a pen, as opposed to electronically, is essential to effective catharsis and anchoring!) I'll conclude with a couple of verses from a song, a 12-bar blues, I wrote several years ago on the lack of respect given to the syllable in pronunciation teaching, The Syllablues: 


Oh . . sometimes I do get stressed, Baby
And sometimes, I don't.
Oh . . sometimes I do get stressed, Baby
And sometimes, I don't. 
But when I do, Teacher,
Jus' "swish" you'd take note.


But when I get stuck in a backgrounded theme, I
Get real down an' doubt.
But when I get stuck in a backgrounded theme, I
Get real down an' doubt.
I get confused, compressed and depressed
Can't get my feelings out. 


I feel better already. 



1 comment:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

Thank you for the reminder of the theme-rheme distinction, of how text is organized with this communicative dynamism, and the concept of fronting.
This is yummy!

Post a Comment