Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pronunciation feedback: KISS errors goodbye . . .


There are literally dozens of posts on this blog relating to error correction in pronunciation work, including this one from 2011. The research literature, in general, does not find strong support for systematic error correction, although all methodologists maintain, correctly, that it is essential at some levels in the process. Where and when is always the question. This research, by Osman and colleagues, focuses on the potential negative effects of feedback in a somewhat different domain: " . . . about 100 people . . . were given the task of choosing how best to either predict or control the state of health of a baby, revealing that feedback can play a negative role in a particularly complex decision-making scenario . . .  how complex the task is in the first place  . . . will determine how much feedback will actually interfere with rather than facilitate performance." What is interesting about this perspective is that it helps pull apart relatively "simple" (KISS=Keep it simple for students!) error correction of pronunciation from more general, complex and  "constructive" feedback on grammar, vocabulary or usage, discourse structure, etc. In other words, there are probably at least a half a dozen distinct responses to "errors" in the classroom. Some will substantially interfere with communication, some have a chance of being "uptaken" or at least registering with the learner at some level, and some don't. Pronunciation feedback, especially that focusing momentarily on pronunciation at the word and phrase level--and haptically integrated and anchored, of course-- works. Correct me if I'm wrong . . . 

3 comments:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

You're definitely not wrong - haptic anchoring works.

Here is an interesting paper about educational neuroscience which
talks about language learning in monolingual and bilingual infants, and what happens cognitively when the brain develops paradigms: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3338206/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3338206/

"...the Superior Temporal Gyrus (STG), known for its key role in phonetic processing, was functioning even in our youngest babies (~2–6 months). Because of its early brain activation, this finding suggests a biological foundation for the phonological level of human language processing, and it further suggests that this brain tissue may be mediating all infants’ universal phonetic discrimination milestone" (Pettito and Dunbar, 2009, p. 7).

Angelina Van Dyke said...

PS. Agree Osman et al. with feedback potentially getting in the way of complex processing.

Bill Acton said...

Beautiful. I have only occasionally explored the developmental side of kinaesthetic and haptic functions on the blog. Will put follow up on that general line of thinking high on the TBD list. Thanks!

Yeah. I really liked the Osman et al study, too. There are several interesting links there to general language instruction as well. (My feedback on that wasn't too over-the-top, was it?)

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