Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spoken fluency rides again . . . in conversation, that is!

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Excellent plenary at the 2012 TESL Canada conference by Michael McCarthy entitled, "Spoken fluency revisited." The focus was " Most researchers agree that fluency involves smooth, automatic production. However, evidence from spoken corpora suggests that fluency in dialogue also involves attention to the linking of speaking turns to create mutual ‘flow’." By that he meant that corpus work reveals, in part, evidence of the words that serve to link one conversational turn with another, creating the sense of connectedness, coherence and most importantly: fluency. He didn't suggest how to teach those terms were to be taught, however. Haptically speaking, we have some ideas on how. Two in particular: attending skills (see previous post) which is not explicitly haptic but can be, and what we call the TaiChi fluency protocol--which is. (It does not use genuine TaiChi moves, but embodies the flowing, fluent felt sense of the real thing.) Combining McCarthy's set of conversational discourse markers (words or fixed phrases at or near the beginning of each turn in the dialogue below) with that gentle sweeping motion, up and down, where the hands touch on marked syllables, we get something like the following:

A: What is the Taichi protocol?
B: Actually, it is very easy.
A: Really? How do you do it.
B: Glad you asked . . .
A: Ok. Can you demonstrate?
B: Delighted to . . . like this . . .
A: Y'know, that looks familiar
B: Right! Here's another example . . .
A: Got it. Very cool . . .

Try that in s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n for starters. Do you follow

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