Monday, July 9, 2012

Inattentive students? (Too much task-based pronunciation instruction?)


Clipart: Clker
Clipart: Clker
In a 2011 study of what they term "inattentional deafness," researchers at University College London (summarized in Science Daily), Lavie and Macdonald observe that, " . . . In our task, most people noticed the sound if the task being performed was easy and did not demand their full concentration. However, when the task was harder they experienced deafness to the very same sound." Several other posts have addressed the "competition" between visual and auditory processing, where one in effect cancels out the other in conditions of tightly focused attention. So, what does that mean for pronunciation instruction? Currently task-based instruction is "seen" by most as being the optimal format for integrating instruction, where communicative interaction and metacognitive engagement (attention to the principles and rules involved) are paramount. This research would suggest, somewhat ironically, that the extent to which attention is drawn away from the felt sense of the articulated sound--to context and informational parameters, the less effective the anchoring in memory of the targeted change may be. Managing that balance is key. As also noted repeatedly in reports on "haptic" research,  relatively speaking, movement and touch as anchoring mechanisms seem to function more independently from that of auditory and visual processing. In other words, a little "inattention" here and there is probably a good thing. Just keep in touch . . . 

4 comments:

Angelina Van Dyke said...
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Angelina Van Dyke said...

Is this saying that decontextualized pronunciation practice may be more effective than pronunciation on task?

Bill Acton said...

Only that context or task performance, like any other "variable" may serve to create an imbalance in what is being "recorded" by the brain for future use! Anchoring "competition" is can go any of several directions, as demonstrated in research reported earlier. Just the usual "Ying and Yang" of it all!

Angelina Van Dyke said...

It's sounds like a win-win!

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