Saturday, October 1, 2022

What comes next in pronunciation teaching! (Why being in touch is so important!)

An intriguing new study by researchers at East Anglia University, Aix-Marseille University and Maastricht University, summarized by Neurosciencenews.com: How the Sounds We Hear Help Us Predict How Things Feel,  (title and actual empirical findings to be revealed later, with no link to the actual study, itself, other than a note that it will appear in Cerebral Cortex)

I am, nonetheless, delighted to take their word for it since I LOVE the conclusions and find them "touching!" Apparently they have uncovered yet another "new" type of connection between sound and touch or tactile processing. The key finding from the summary:  

“ . . . research shows that parts of our brains, which were thought to only respond when we touch objects, are also involved when we listen to specific sounds associated with touching objects. (Italics, mine.) This supports the idea that a key role of these brain areas is to predict what we might experience next, from whatever sensory stream is currently available.”

Across this unique, recently discovered circuit, for example, when we hear a sound, like that of a single consonant, the brain in principle simultaneously connects it with the physical sensations (touch, vocal resonance, micro-movements involved in producing it) associated with articulating it. If the focus is a word, on the other hand, we assume that other multiple, analogous circuits come into play that link to other dimensions. But the "touch" circuit has those unique properties. 

So what might that mean in the classroom, especially pronunciation and effectiveness? (I'll get to haptic pronunciation later, of course!) For one thing, (NO SURPRISE HERE!) a sound may be associated with the somatic (body) sensations in the vocal tract but not necessarily with a the concept, or phoneme, the phonological complex/nexus and the graphemic representation, itself. It is as if the sound points at the body, not the "brain" as a whole. 
 
On the other "hand," any number of other words could have have virtually identical "points of impact" on the body, associated with the same vowel "sound." The same may apply to a word articulated simultaneously with a gesture, or any experience associated with a sound, one heard or self-generated. That circuit connects the auditory image to at least the "body," but not necessarily one concept. 

Then what is the "workaround" for bringing together the multisensory event termed a "word," or for  example, assuming that it has been learned truly "multi-sensorialy," that is with as many senses as possible, or at least a "quorum level," vividly or intensely engaged as possible? 

In a sense, the "answer" is in the question: consistent, rich multisensory engagement. There are an almost infinite number of ways to accomplish that, of course, but haptic pronunciation teaching, based on touch-anchored speech-synchronized gesture attempts to do that, systematically. In principle, any sound, word or sound process can be experienced as a nexus involving: 
  • the physical sensation of articulating the sound/process
  • the auditory features of the sound (acoustic)
  • a concept (in the case of a word or, in come cases, patterns of pitch movement)
  • a gesture that involves hands touching with each other or the body, in some manner that mimics either the nature of the sensations involved in articulation or the "shape" of the concept itself, such as hands rising on a rising pitch or intonation, or hands positioned high in the visual field to represent a "high" vowel.  
According to the study, the use of haptic, touch-anchored gesture should strengthen considerably the connection between the concept associated with the gesture and the sound by "pointing" to the body-sensations involved in articulating the sound.

 And, of course, from our perspective, KINETIK (method) is what is coming next! 

 Source: https://neurosciencenews.com/auditory-tactile-processing-21279/


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Killing (Pronunciation) Learning 16*: Move (with) it or Lose it!

Cilker.com
Fascinating new research--with intriguing implications: "Hand constraint reduces brain activity and affects the speed of verbal responses on semantic tasks,“ by Onishi, Tobita and Makioka of Osaka Metropolitan University, one that gives the metaphor to "sit on your hands," neuroscientific validation . . .almost!

In the study, subjects sat at computers and had to make judgments as to the relative size of different objects on the screen. In one condition, subjects viewing objects that entailed the use of the hands, such as a broom, were not allowed move their hands as they responded. That significantly slowed down brain processing, compared to responding to objects, such as a house, which do not involve as direct hand engagement or learning experience, where the restraint on their hand movement had no discernable effect. 

From the perspective of embodied cognition theory that makes sense, where, in principle, all learning . . and thought is inexorably bound together with the entire body in multiple dimensions. Some of that interconnectedness derives from when something is learned; some, from the primal notion that all experience is embodied, that is grounded in what the body is doing either in saving to memory or memory access. 

Assuming that general principle holds--and I am absolutely convinced that it does from about 50 years in the field of pronunciation teaching--how does impact our understanding of the function of body movement in the classroom? For one, requiring students to sit near motionless, especially in language learning, let alone elementary school classrooms, is a killer, best case. Just being able to move around a little, keeping loose and responding easily and with all your body (and being) means something, literally. That is something we all know intuitively, of course, but what the study shows is that at some level a body constraint is a "thought" constraint as well. 

In (haptic) pronunciation teaching, virtually all basic instruction is based on gesture-synchronized speech, where all speech production can be accompanied by gesture, and body awareness of constant motion and synchrony between body and speech rhythm develop throughout the process. The hands and arms play prominently in the method. For more on that: www.actonhaptic.com

Do a video of your class (any class) sometime. Is it moving? It should be . . . 

*This is number 16 in the series of blogposts highlighting factors or variables that can seriously interfere with learning and teaching pronunciation. 

Source:
Onishi, S., Tobita, K. & Makioka, S. Hand constraint reduces brain activity and affects the speed of verbal responses on semantic tasks. Sci Rep 12, 13545 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-17702-1

Friday, August 19, 2022

A "Scanpath" down Memory (for pronunciation) Lane: The Eyes have it!

"Eye catching" new study on the function of eye scanning movements in memory creation and access, Eye-movement replay supports episodic remembering, by Johansson, Nystrom, Dewhurst and Johansson in the recent Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences. (Also summarized informally in Neurosciencenews.com). The general concept is that eye movement patterns ("scanpaths") that accompany creation of a memory are virtually the same as those used in recalling features of the memory later. 

From the abstract:

Our findings provide direct evidence that such scanpaths are replayed to assemble and reconstruct spatio-temporal relations as we remember and further suggest that distinct scanpath properties differentially contribute depending on the nature of the goal-relevant memory.

In other words, at some level the eyes, at least in episodic memory creation, as part of the overall visuo-spatial processing system of the brain, move in minute scan patterns of millisecond duration, which are not only accessible in recall of that event/episode, but are integral to it. How that relates to internal "events" inside the brain is not entirely clear, of course, but the research again confirms the correlation between path and event-in-time. As the research literature review in the research report relates, those eye movements and related phenomena have been the object of research and various therapeutic applications for over 70 years. 

And how does this relate to remembering or learning pronunciation? The key idea is what constitutes an "episode" in this context " . . . that the sequential replay of eye movements serves to facilitate pure episodic reconstruction in the absence of visual input." (from the article) According to that model, when a gesture is used, for example, associated with a new sound or perhaps an intonation contour, the two are "stored" together in a sense. Either may, in principle, then prompt recall of the other. If the pair are practiced together, the components of the two, the sound, itself, the kinesthetic "track" of the gesture, the "trail" in the visual field can be further joined and strengthened. 

That is, in effect, the basis of the KINETIK Method, as well having gotten its early inspiration from what is known as Observed Experiential Integration Therapy.  

From about 30 years of experience in working with gesture and sound change, the connection between what we call the "movement, tone and touch technique," the MT3, the complex of sound and gesture (and touch), when mapped onto a sound or word or phrase or clause or passage, is incredibly powerful. At times the eyes are actually tracking a gesture across the visual field; at others, the MT3 is out of direct line of sight, but, as the research reveals the "episode" is still embodied, in part, by one or more eye movements that are associated with it. How to exploit those complexes effectively is the question, of course. To learn more about how that works, go to www.actonhaptic.com/kinetik. 



Source: 
Eye-movement replay supports episodic remembering
Roger Johansson, Marcus Nyström,Richard Dewhurst and
Mikael Johansson
Published:15 June 2022 https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2022.0964
Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Now we are REALLY talking (with students about pragmatics with meta-pragmatics!)

More big news! Our latest research report, our second, "Role-play and dialogic meta-pragmatics in developing and assessing pragmatic competence," is now officially in press with Pedagogical Linguistics, coming out later this fall, hopefully! Here is the abstract: 

Role-play as a bridging and integrating practice in language teaching and development of pragmatic competence in learners is well-established. In an EAP classroom (Van Dyke & Acton, 2021) explored the impact of one fluency protocol, Cooperative Attending Skills Training, by which students were trained to listen attentively to shared personal stories, working toward more sophisticated strategies of conversational interaction. That system included dialogic, pragmatics-focused, spontaneous analysis and instructor-student discussion of interactional discourse features. With that experience, further modeling and conceptual input, participants in this study engaged in six role-plays, each involving a problem requiring pragmatic accommodation. The data from transcribed role-plays were analyzed in terms of pragmatic discourse functions and NVivo-based thematic threads. The generally successful application of the targeted skills and concepts by course end most likely resulted from the engaging meta-pragmatic interactions preceding the role-plays, and the formal and informal instructor feedback related to implicature, prosody, implicit understandings, direct conversation strategies, grammar, and vocabulary.

This is a follow on to the previous piece, probably the second of three or four: 

Van Dyke, A. & Acton, W. (2022). Spontaneous classroom engagement facilitating development of L2 pragmatic competence: A naturalistic study. Pedagogical Linguistics 3(1) 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1075/pl.20011.van

As reported in a previous blogpost, we'll be doing a pre-convention institute at the 2023 TESOL convention next March in Portland, based on our research. By then the next phase of the analysis, centering on prosodics and pragmatics should be in "presentable form." See you there! 


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Upcoming KINETIK Courses, beginning September, 2022!

As promised, two or three great KINETIK courses now scheduled: 

(For students, adults, lower intermediate and above) Embodied English Fluency and Pronunciation Course: 10 weeks, beginning 9/19, offered through Trinity Western University (for more details, see earlier blogpost)

  • Objectives:
    • Good uptake - attention to and memory for course content, meaning, emotion, concepts and vocabulary
    • Improved clarity - greater emphasis, expressiveness, fluency and intelligibility
    • Greater confidence in speaking and ability to "use what you know already!"

  • Weekly schedule
    • 30 - minute training (recorded), available Thursdays
    • 60 - minute, (recorded or live), homework feedback Zoom class, the following week on Wednesdays (6 p.m. PST)
    • Homework: 30 minutes per day, minimum 4 days per week
  • Cost: $500 CAD, materials provided
  • Preliminary Zoom interview required (contact: william.acton@twu.ca)
  • Can also be customized for individual classes or schools.

Instructor Training Certificate Course (KMICC): 12 weeks, beginning 9/22, offered through ActonHaptic.com (for more details, see course description)

  • Objectives
    • Basics of haptic pronunciation teaching
    • Techniques for enhancing memory for course content
    • Enhanced (instructor's) classroom speaking model and pedagogical presence 
  • Weekly schedule
    • 30-minute training (recorded, available Monday)
    • ~90 minutes of homework
    • 75-minute live seminar on Zoom (arranged according to participants' schedules, usually on Saturday, PST)
  • $600 USD, materials provided
  • Certificate provided upon successful completion
  • Full-refund (no questions asked) up to Week 4
  • Preliminary Zoom interview required (contact: wracton@gmail.com)
In all humility, these are terrific courses. If you are an instructor considering having your students take EFPC, contact me and I'll be happy to discuss the course with you. Both courses can be offered for just one school, beginning in January 2023. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Talking (and analyzing) Pragmatics with Students: Meta-pragmatics and Embodied Prosody!

Great news! Just approved! That is the title of our upcoming half-day, 4-hour Pre-convention Institute at that the 2023 TESOL Convention in Portland (probably) March 20, 2023. Here is the current program summary:

This PCI focuses on "dialogic” meta-pragmatic analysis, where instructor and students together, analyze pragmatic aspects of conversations that students have just participated in. That is done by first producing rich, conversational interaction which is then analyzed and embodied to be remembered using, in part, haptic pronunciation teaching prosodic techniques.

Here is original proposal that Angelina Van Dyke and myself submitted that unpacks more of what it is about:

There is no shortage of "talk" about pragmatics in research and pedagogy. This PCI explores ways of working “meta-pragmatically” in the classroom with students, examining pragmatic features of discourse. That is done utilizing several techniques that produce rich, conversational interaction which is then analyzed and embodied to be used later.

In terms of methodology of teaching pragmatics, currently most involves (a) explaining what pragmatics, basically awareness and performance in context-appropriate conversational interaction, (b) exploring examples of interaction with model pragmatic features, or classroom practices such as roleplay, and identifying effective strategies and (c) reflecting on classroom exercises or personal experiences in various ways, (Hennessy, Calcagni, Leung & Mercer, 2021).

What is often missing are two elements: an effective framework for setting up student-produced conversational narrative (for context and analysis) and strategies for helping learners remember what they have worked with. In part in response to that key “bridging” gap or function between classroom pedagogy and spontaneous speaking, an especially adapted version of “cooperative attending skills training” (CAST) (Acton and Cope, 1999) is used to produce “pragmatically-rich,” short conversations with potential for metapragmatic analysis by instructor and students. Additionally, complementing the meta-pragmatic dialogic analyses, in order to enhance memory and clarity of expression, entails embodiment of new, alternative or corrected forms and expressions, using movement, tone and touch techniques (MT3s) based on the KINETIK Method of haptic pronunciation teaching. (Acton et al., 2013).

The PCI uses as a point of departure a recent study, "Spontaneous classroom conversational analysis supporting development L2 pragmatic competence" (Van Dyke & Acton, 2022). A key feature of the classroom discourse examined in that research was "dialogic” meta-pragmatic analysis, where instructor and students together, analyze, post hoc, aspects of conversations that students have just participated in.

Join us!!!

References:
Acton, W. & Cope, C. (1999). Cooperative attending skills training for ESL students, in JALT Applied Materials volume, Kluge, D. and S. McGuire (Eds.), Cooperative language teaching in Japan, pp. 50-66.
Burri, M., Baker, A., & Acton, W. (2019). Proposing a haptic approach to facilitating L2 learners' pragmatic competence. Humanising Language Teaching, 3. Available at http://hltmag.ng3.devwebsite.co.uk/june19/proposing-a-haptic-approach
Hennessy, S., Calcagni, E., Leung, A. & Mercer, N. (2021) An analysis of the forms of teacher-student dialogue that are most productive for learning, Language and Education, DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2021.1956943
Van Dyke, A. & Acton, W. (2022). Spontaneous classroom engagement facilitating development of L2 pragmatic competence: A naturalistic study. Pedagogical Linguistics 3(1) 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1075/pl.20011.van



Giving the nod to good pronunciation teaching: the "Coconut Cheeseburger" effect

Many in the field "look down on" using gesture and body movement extensively in pronunciation teaching; some of it is deserved, of course. But a new study adds an interesting new twist: upper torso "nodding" (at least in English), often observable when a native speaker is speaking rhythmically or stressing words in speech. (Note: This is a bit of stretch--literally, of the neck--but hang with me. My "discovery" of the upper torso nod early on was simply a game changer.)

In a study by Fumiaki Sato of Toyohashi Institute of Technology and colleagues (Summarized by Neurosciencenews.com) titled, Backward and forward neck tilt affects perceptual bias when interpreting ambiguous figures, subjects were shown three-dimensional cubes in their visual field where they had to either look up to focus on it, or look down to identify which of two or three others they were looking at. Basically, when nodding their head down slightly they were able to identify the cube more quickly than if they were looking up at it. (Moving to the left or right did not evoke an analogous difference in perception.) Fascinating study . . .  The researchers' discussion focuses on the role of that postural adjustment in affecting perception, without speculating further as to the implications of that finding. Allow me!

In 1987, on my way to a convention, I observed two strikingly different upper torso nods associated with the words, Coconut Cheeseburger. (For the full story, see the blog post on it from 2015.) One person, trying to explain why his friend had mistakenly received a 'coconut cheeseburger,' was claiming that what had been said was "coconut cheeseburger," used one torso nod, culminating on 'cheese.' The other person, argued that what she had actually said was, "Coke and a cheeseburger," using two torso nods, one on 'coke' and one on 'cheeseburger." You see the problem. Said with one torso nod--given that there was a sandwich of that description at time in the Florida Keys--the misunderstanding is  . . .well . .  understandable. 

In haptic pronunciation teaching--and perhaps all teaching in some sense in English, that basic pendulum-like motion of the body rhythm in speaking is fundamental, reflecting the muscles of the upper and lower chest, and diaphragm, coming together to expel air up and out through the vocal cords. At the "bottom" of each nod is where there should be, according to the research, at least some greater clarity and focus. If you "think" about, that downward motion of upper torso can have meaning in interpersonal communication from several perspectives. 

Some it, of course, is just visual marking of stress assignment, similar to the "baton" gesture. It can also, however, signify other concepts externally, such resignation or confidence or, depending on the speed of the gesture, varying degrees of engagement or energy involved. Regular, uncluttered rhythmic torso nods can imply semantic coherence in the speaker, that what is being said is thoroughly integrated at that point in time. Any highly accomplished public speaker generally has near total control and expressive use of upper torso "nodding" as well. 

In haptic work, almost every one of the three dozen or so designed gestures may be accompanied by an upper torso nod, depending on whether the stretch of speech is being articulated in "pieces" for some pedagogical purpose or fluently, approaching natural speech. In effect, the torso, not the head and arms is where the "action" is. How's yours?

See what I mean? If not, set up a video camera off to your left or right as you teach. Note when your speech is generally synced with your upper torso nods, and when it is not. If it is, well . . . take a bow! Then join us at www.actonhaptic.com!

And, of course, keep in touch!

Bill

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-10985-4


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Looking, sounding and feeling confident in front of your (English language teaching) class!

Something of a radical idea . . . You can substantially improve your "Classroom English teaching presence" by talking pretty much to yourself . . . without much talking with anybody else in the process. For some, unfortunately, that is their only option. Have a course for them.

Well . .  more technically: Enhanced (virtual and physical) English-teaching classroom presence (EECP) --for anybody who needs it! Another of the new v6.0 KINETIK Pro-D courses! This one is designed especially for those non-native English-speaking instructors who have not been fortunate enough to do a training program where they had the opportunity to develop their "classroom English" skill set under supervision, as in a good internship or practicum. It is all done on Zoom or a comparable platform:

  • Can be either 10 or 20 weeks in length, with one or two meetings per week.
  • Cost varies, just based on number of participants. For example, the 10-week course for a class of 10, meeting once per week, would be about $500 USD per student; for 25 students, $200 USD each--and anything in between, even 50, at $100 each.
  • Works best if all the instructors are teaching in the same school, or at least with the same type of students. 

As with all KINETIK courses, it makes use of content from the instructor's current (or favorite) course and:

  • Develops improved general speech rhythm and clarity (including pronunciation)
  • Features innovative "embodied oral reading" and "embodied. spontaneous oral recasting" as a basic homework/practice format. (using the student/instructor's own course content.) 
  • Identifies and helps moderate both visual and speaking mannerisms that can be effectively "upgraded"-- particularly in the "Zoom Room!"
  • Provides a powerful, embodied set of strategies for enhancing memory for content and expressiveness (primarily haptic in nature, using gesture and touch), most of which are directly applicable to any classroom or student population. 

Courses can be offered through a school or you can sign up independently. New classes commence when there is a group of at least 10 students--in compatible time zones!!! 

Look good? Contact us for more info, go to www.actonhaptic/eecp or wracton@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Embodied (and great) learning of pronunciation: Exploring Arthur Lessac!

Once in a while, we should go back to the source, what inspired us to be in this field, just to understand better where are at the moment. Two months ago, I recommended to you a new book, Movement Matters: How Embodied Cognition Informs Teaching and Learning, edited by Macrine, S. & Fugate, J., which represents some extraordinary progress is getting the body systematically back into instruction. Lessac had it figured out over 75 years ago. 

His work is not widely known outside of the fields of speech and drama, in part, because it is so "body-centered," requiring students to learn to explore themselves, their place in the world--and their voice through something similar to what we now know as "mindfulness" but also in persona of an actor to inhabit any number of other agents . . . or even musical instruments and animals, let alone metaphor upon metaphor. In other words, in theater, he had found a path back to fully engaged--and joyful use of the body and voice. 

What is so evident in Macrine & Fugate (2022) is that embodiment is key, but how you get there may vary widely . . . and neuroscience has explored a myriad ways in which that can happen effectively, many of them seem straight out of Lessac's work. 

From my perspective, in terms of a complete system, an accompanied, experiential guide to embodied "learning (through constant) exploration" (as he would characterize it), his two classics, Body Wisdom, and The Use and Training of the Human Voice, are almost without peer. 

Of course, to follow Lessac through the system, or through the courses available through the Lessac Institute, takes time, maybe six months or so before you get there, where you and your body have become wonderfully "reintegrated," as you were when you were a child. To the post-modern mind, from the "outside," it appears as though you have simply given yourself over to the whims of body, but in fact, what as happened is you and your body are just communicating together as a team. 

But to get there, generally requires going back to square one, exploring the experience of speaking and moving again, setting aside temporarily the layer upon layer of words and experience that determine what we are allowed to sense and understand. To Lessac, it was all about "exploration," being perpetually in that state of discovery with the body as the "territory," and the mind as being the map being constantly created out of experience-- not the reverse. 

In other words, to quote Lessac, train the body first. KINETIK does that. Join us this fall. (www.actonhaptic.com) or email me directly: wracton@gmail.com for custom programs, etc. 

It's good to be back. More on the KINETIK project, "KINETIK (embodied speaking and teaching) Method" soon! 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Why haptic pronunciation teaching should be seen as more "memorable!"

(Eye) moving study by Johansson, Nystrom, Dewhurst and Johansson of Lund University, entitled, 
"Eye-movement replay supports episodic remembering." The idea that our eyes may move in the same or similar pattern or path in recalling an event that they experienced earlier when the even occurred has been recognized for several decades, used in various therapeutic applications and has been reported in several earlier blog posts over the last decade. 

This research study provides new, strong empirical confirmation of that underlying process. Subjects' eye tracking was recorded as they were shown various configurations of objects and asked to search out specific features. When later asked to recall details from that earlier phase, the eyes in effect closely "retraced" the paths used initially.  The implications are striking, even for haptic pronunciation work (KINETIK), which, itself, was inspired by the work of Bradshaw and colleagues in developing Observed Experiential Observation (OEI) therapy.

In the KINETIK English Fluency and Pronunciation System, sounds and words or phrases to be remembered are introduced and later recalled, associated with dynamic gestural patterns, accompanied by touch across that are performed in various locations in the visual field of the learner--either by the instructor, the learner or by both, simultaneously. (See examples of what are termed: movement, tone and touch techniques, from an earlier, version 4.5, of haptic pronunciation teaching.) After about 15 years of work, developing and teaching with the KINETIK Method, clearly the "eyes have it!" There are many well-established techniques and methods in various fields that involve synchronization of movement and speech and prompted recall, such as the Total Physical Response Method of language teaching. This research provides further justification for such embodied approaches. 

Speaking of, KINETIK v6.0 will be available for classroom use beginning this fall. More details will be available shortly, but if you would like to check out the general format of the courses, go here!

And, of course, Keep in Touch!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

A near perfect pronunciation course! (Fun, efficient, effective, memorable. . . and almost . . . free!)

If your students need help with basic pronunciation work--and remembering it--and you don't have the time or training or cash on hand to afford it . . .  I may have a solution for you: the new KINETIK "Feed-forward" Project (KFP), beginning on September 14, 2022. It is both a course and an ongoing celebration of haptic pronunciation teaching. (A new introductory video on the project will be available shortly!) 

There is a course for students, a regular, bi-weekly recorded, 30 minutes to 1-hour lesson, with an optional live follow up the following week. The recorded lesson with chat follow up will be free. The optional, live "Feed-forward" follow up the next week will probably be about $5 per session or $10 per month! For great results, students do the homework, too, about 3 hours per week. 

There is also an ongoing seminar on haptic pronunciation teaching and an optional teacher certification course that accompanies the student course. 

How does it work?

  • Students are trained in specially designed haptic movement, tone and touch techniques (MT3) that both teach and are used to practice aspects of course content and pronunciation. 
  • The use of MT3s make the training and course content very memorable
  • Later they can be used for enhancing recall of any content or vocabulary, correction and feedback. 
  • Students are trained to do the 2 weeks of homework for that module, using a special kind of oral reading, a haptic-embodied oral reading that keeps active learning and exploration going.  
  • The next week, students have the option of just doing the homework or also attending a live, 75-minute practice and feedback session on Zoom with Bill Acton.
  • The entire KFP curriculum cycle is completed in about 8 months.
More about KFP
  • Teaches the basics of rhythm, stress, intonation, vowels, consonants, and other key features of English pronunciation in 2-week modules
  • Bill Acton is the instructor, with support from other "Hapticians"
  • For any student, upper beginner and above, almost any age (7+), and any place! 
  • Fits in with or complements almost any English course
  • Based on the idea of developing rhythm first and regular, instructor support during the learning process
  • Uses the new KINETIK "Feed forward" system (using gesture and touch, plus innovative haptic feedback learning and self-monitoring techniques on Zoom or f2f to keep active learning going!)
  • Each module is 2 weeks long, one hour (recorded) available on Monday in Week One and 75 minutes (live) on Wednesday in Week 2 (Done twice, 6 a.m. PST and 6 p.m., PST)
  • Trains students to self correct and develop disciplined practice routines. 
  • Recommended minimum 2~3 hours of (active, movement-based, haptic) homework per week
  • Materials and video models provided
  • KINETIK METHOD teacher training certificate course can be taken along with student course (You basically do the student course work along with your students, and also do some additional reading and attend the weekly KFP seminars.)
  • Other custom-made student courses also available.

Introductory video, more details and curriculum coming soon! 

For more information: wracton@gmail.com 

Keep in touch!

Bill

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Required reading! (New book on Embodied Cognition in Teaching and Learning)

Put this one on your list:  Movement Matters: How Embodied Cognition Informs Teaching and Learning, edited by Macrine, S. & Fugate, J., MIT Press DOI: https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/13593.001.0001

From the promo: "Experts translate {at least some of} the latest findings on embodied cognition from neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive science to inform teaching and learning pedagogy." (Braces, mine!) There are "only" 18 chapters, 330 pages, and the topics covered are not exhaustive, of course, but several, including the opening section on theories of embodied cognition are well worth a careful read. That is especially the case since it is FREE, open access!

In addition to the excellent concluding section, my favorite chapter thus far, one that connects very directly to the KINETIK Method and haptic pronunciation teaching is: "Embodied Classroom Activities for Vocabulary Acquisition," by Gomez, L. and Glenberg, A. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/13593.003.0011

Enjoy! Embody it all! 

Bill

Friday, May 6, 2022

Let's talk (and analyze) pragmatics . . . with students!

There is no shortage of "talk" about pragmatics in research and pedagogy. In terms of methodology of teaching, most of it boils down to (a) explaining to students what pragmatics is, basically awareness and performance in context-appropriate conversational interaction, (b) either listening to examples or some kind of classroom practice such as roleplay, identification of good response language techniques and (c) after the fact reflection of various kinds on B, (Hennessy, Calcagni, Leung & Mercer, 2021).

In an earlier post, I reported on a TESOL 2022 presentation that I did with Angelina VanDyke, "Spontaneous classroom conversational analysis supporting development L2 pragmatic competence." (Published in Educational Pragmatics.)  A key feature of the classroom discourse in that study was "dialogic meta-pragmatic analysis," where instructor and students together, analyze, post hoc (after the fact), aspects of conversations that students have just participated in. 

The second phase of analysis focuses on evidence of student uptake of the instruction in pragmatics related to coursework they had just completed and features of the instructor's spontaneous feedback, supporting that development. We have submitted a manuscript based on that analysis which, if you are interested, we'll be happy to share in the interim. Only one condition on that . . . in return, you "dialogue" with us on it! 

Now I'm sure you are asking "Where is the usual connection to haptic pronunciation teaching and the KINETIK method?" The answer is in the anchoring and embodiment in memory of new or corrected forms and expressions that students go on to practice in context and as homework. For more on that, see upcoming blogpost unpacking that and announcing an exiting, new all-day workshop concept we will be offering focusing on "pragmatics and prosody!" 

Source: 

Hennessy, S., and  Calcagni, E., Leung, A., & Mercer, N. (2021). An analysis of the forms of teacher-student dialogue that are most productive for learning, Language and Education, DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2021.1956943

Clker.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Pronunciation teaching: RIP (requiescat in pace--or not)

An earlier, 2018 study, summarized by ScienceDaily.com as Even mild physical activity immediately improves memory function, by researchers at the University of California-Irvine and Tsukuba University in Japan, points to a fascinating (and commonsensical) concept: movement for movement's sake in learning. Children (of all ages) know that you have to be moving constantly to learn anything. Neuroscience tells us basically the same thing: that Descartes was wrong: I MOVE therefore, I am--in apart because at some level in the brain, thought is movement. (Some argue very convincingly that movement comes first!) In the study, participants did 10 minutes of light exercise, yoga, walking, etc., before doing a memory test. The results were striking, due in part to " . . .better connectivity between the hippocampal dentate gyrus and cortical areas linked to detailed memory processing." Details, details . . . 

In case you haven't noticed, pronunciation teaching is generally not a high priority with most teachers, for a number of reasons, from the KINETIK Method perspective, lack of systematic movement being one of them: 

  • Just not enough time, too much other stuff to deal with--even if I do have some training in it.  
  • Although research in second language pronunciation has made enormous gains in the last decade, methodology of pronunciation teaching is still pretty much where it was several decades ago: explanation, repetition, reflection and communicative practice . . . then leave the rest to the individual student to figure things out
  • Internationally, with media and cultural integration and engagement--and the post-colonial milieu we are in, acceptance of far less than perfect British or American pronunciation has changed attitudes enormously. The demand, at least in some contexts, is just no longer there. 
  • With the availability and accessibility of English on the web and technology, learners can be exposed to so much more meaningful input and interaction that their pronunciation has a better chance to evolve, naturally or with a little help, far more effectively than in the past.
  • Even during in-class face-to-face instruction, there are also a myriad of factors that can undermine attention to pronunciation. The Zoom experience for the last couple of years has foregrounded a key element of pronunciation teaching and learning: engagement of the body, the impact of lack of physical engagement in various modes of instruction at a distance. In other words, resting peacefully (requiescat in pace) as you do (pronunciation) may really work against you . .  especially if you want to remember what you are studying. 
Recall that back in the 1980s one of the "boutique" teaching methods, Suggestopedia, actually used a number of procedures based on deep, hypnotic-like relaxation techniques accompanied by little or no motion involved, claiming to enhance speed of acquisition and memory. The method turned out to at least lack generalizability, and is no longer  . . . remembered! The Suwabe et al 2018 study looked at light exercise followed by the memory test. 

Perhaps what makes learning pronunciation most problematic is, in fact, the level of physical or somatic engagement. In the KINETIK Method, body engagement is managed or required extensively, both when speaking and when not. Turns out, you can get at least some enhancement of memory for what comes next just by doing a little "body work" in preparation. So . . . do it!

Source article:
Kazuya Suwabe, Kyeongho Byun, Kazuki Hyodo, Zachariah M. Reagh, Jared M. Roberts, Akira Matsushita, Kousaku Saotome, Genta Ochi, Takemune Fukuie, Kenji Suzuki, Yoshiyuki Sankai, Michael A. Yassa, Hideaki Soya. Rapid stimulation of human dentate gyrus function with acute mild exercise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201805668 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1805668115


Sunday, April 10, 2022

KINETIK English Fluency and Pronunciation Course (5/26~8/9)!

The course is being offered to the public for the first time by the Trinity Western University MATESOL (LIVE on Zoom or by viewing the class video later.) It has a somewhat unorthodox time format: 
  • Instructor: Bill Acton
  • May 26 – August 9, 2022 (12 weeks), 3-4 hours per week
    • Thursday: 7 – 8 p.m. PST 
    • And Wednesday, the following week: 7 - 8 p.m. PST
    •  Homework: 15-20 minutes per day, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Specifics: 
This course is for those who want to improve their speaking fluency and pronunciation of English. It is especially helpful for students who have IELTS level of 4.5+ and do not have time or opportunity to practice speaking English outside of class, themselves, but have reasonably good listening skills.

The KINETIK teaching method includes neuroscience-based haptic techniques (using special gestures and touch) to improve memory for new vocabulary, pronunciation and and confidence in speaking.

In addition to one hour of class each week and one hour of homework review every week on Zoom, for best results students should practice their homework exercises at least 15-30 minutes per day, 4~5 days a week. Book and practice video recordings are provided.

A brief, preliminary interview on Zoom is required to be admitted into the course. If interested, contact Professor Bill Acton (William.acton@twu.ca) in the MATESOL Department at Trinity Western University. Classes are recorded. If a class is missed, it can be watched later. Certificate is awarded for 80% attendance.

Course fee: $500 CAD ($400 USD) Group discounts available. 

Also: The 4-week version of the instructor certificate course is also available this summer, on campus, in Langley, BC, July 18th ~ August 12th. One hour of class, 4 days a week and approximately 6 additional hours  per week of preparation and practice. Cost: $800, all materials included. (A zoom hybrid of the course may be available as well.) Contact me, if interested: william.acton@twu.ca. 

Keep in touch!

Bill




Sunday, April 3, 2022

Z-OR: Enhanced English Fluency and Confidence

Conference presentation later this month with Eileen McWilliams at the BCTEAL annual conference, entitled: How to Speak with Confident Vowels and Beyond! It is based on research I reported on at the 2022 Spokane ESL Conference: Using what you know: Embodied Oral Reading to Spontaneous Speech, with Volzhanina and Qie.

Here's the summary:

This workshop presents a haptic technique (using systematic movement and touch) based on strategic use of intonation and vowel quality for helping learners achieve more confidence in speaking based on developing awareness and control of the fundamental formant (lowest) in their speech, evident especially when one is relaxed and confident.

There are two terms we have been using: Haptic-Embodied Oral Reading (HE OR), and Spontaneous Haptic-Embodied Oral Recast (SHE-OR). Using the HE-OR technique, which involves using gesture and touch to accompany an oral reading, learners developed remarkable confidence and fluency in speaking and (they report) that the technique also improved their reading fluency. At the end of the study, learners switched to SHE-OR, where they managed their spontaneous speech using a fluency gesture as they were describing various locations and events. The apparent carry over from HE-OR over to SHE-OR was striking. Have just updated our terms a little. Now, instead of HE-OR or SHE-OR, we use the gender neutral, Z-OR, to refer to both fixed text and spontaneous embodied readings and recasts. 

If you can’t join us at BCTEAL, no worries. We’ll post the recording right after the conference.







Thursday, March 3, 2022

More than just a gesture: Non-referential gesture in children's conversation and (haptic pronunciation) instruction

Interesting study, summarized on Technologynetwork.com, one pointing the way to potentially greater, systematic application of gesture in instruction: Children use non-referential gestures in narrative speech to mark discourse elements which update common ground, by Rohrer, Florit-Pons, Vilà-Giménez and Prieto of Pompeu Fabra University and the University of Girona. What they were looking at is the use of "nonreferential" gesture by children, ages 6 to 9. Specifically those gestures were not iconic (representing an object of image) or deictic ("pointing" in the direction of a referent), but were synchronized with the rhythm or stress patterning to mark information structure in narrative discourse. For example, (from the paper)

"A non-referential gesture would be to simply move the hands up and down rhythmically or raise the eyebrows and move the head. These movements do not express the specific meaning of the verbal content. They are often made by politicians during their speeches to emphasize important points."

These gestural discourse markers can have many functions but, in essence, the speakers are using the body to focus the listener's attention in some way. In KINETIK, haptic pronunciation teaching, in principle, a gesture can be mapped on to any rhythm group or phrase, providing structure (that is indication of word grouping) emphasis, expressiveness, greater clarity, or, additional multisensory connectedness to enhance memory. 

Nice piece, I think! ("And a little child shall lead them . . . ") Will be reporting on this research both at TESOL Arabia next week and the TESOL Convention, March 23rd! Join us then if you can!

Keep in touch!

Bill


Reference: Rohrer PL, Florit-Pons J, Vilà-Giménez I, Prieto P. Children use non-referential gestures in narrative speech to mark discourse elements which update common ground. Front. Psychol. 2022;12. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661339


Thursday, February 24, 2022

"Content-Based Haptic Oral Reading: Enhanced Memory for Text and Pronunciation,":

Workshop to be presented at the TESOL Convention, Wednesday, 23 March, 14:00-15:45 US EST in Room 333 at The David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 

Here is the summary and the proposal: 

This workshop presents an innovative technique, the haptic, embodied oral reading, based on use of adjusted or enhanced targeted language present within typical, written course content or a structured “recast” of spontaneous classroom conversation. The procedure, relying on special gestures and touch, is applicable to learners of all proficiency levels.

Abstract:

Oral reading in its various incarnations may be the oldest and still most frequently employed language teaching and literacy development technique, for both learning and testing. For some learners and classroom contexts, reading out loud can be effective; for others, its applicability is limited. Its place in literacy and early reading instruction with children is well established, unequivocal. Although research on the efficacy of oral reading in language instruction with adult skill development is mixed, it is still seen as essential in oral proficiency testing. The “problem” with oral reading, in part, is that, unless done with attention to more than simply reading the text out loud, there is little empirical evidence that much is gained by the exercise.

This workshop focuses on “embodied” oral reading, that is the practice of performing an oral reading of a “regular” course text excerpt or stretch of spontaneous conversation, such that (a) the rhythm and stress grouping/structure is identified prior to the actual oral reading of the text. Next, (b) some feature of the text, such as intonation or a problematic consonant is briefly “adjusted” or modified. And (c) finally that stretch of speech (typically between 10 and 50 words) is read out loud, synchronized with some type of fluency-oriented gesture, such touching hands on the stressed words in the rhythm groups, creating a more memorable, fluent and semantically anchored experience for the learner, encouraging integration of the adjusted content material.





Tuesday, February 22, 2022

From conversational analysis (in class!) to L2 pragmatic competence at TESOL 2022!

The full  title of our TESOL 2022 presentation: Spontaneous classroom conversational analysis supporting development L2 pragmatic competence. 

Here is the abstract! (Presentation is on Thursday at 3:30 in room 334.)

This paper reports on research into ways in which an instructor in an EAP Speaking skills course helped facilitate development of pragmatic awareness and competence. The study focused on spontaneous, conversational analysis of student personal anecdotes done in small groups. Results revealed a range of potentially productive strategies and techniques. 


Angelina VanDyke and Bill Acton

Monday, February 21, 2022

50 ways to say "Haptic Pronunciation Teaching is BEST!"

About 30 years ago, at the KOTESOL annual conference, I did a plenary talk, something of a demonstration of the power of using gesture, prosody and expressiveness, entitled: 50 ways to say, good morning! (A take off either on a scene from Cyrano de Bergerac or song by Simon and Garfinkel.) Have continued to use that technique/trick ever since. It came off quite successfully, in fact, with an audience of over 100, where each person had to not only come up with a unique way to say "Good Morning!" but include a gesture to accompany it. One we had done "the 100," I then went back and pointed out something of the range of emotional, prosodic and gestural overlays that were evident. (Try it sometime!) 

CAVEAT EMPTOR: The following is very much fun and decidedly PRO-KINETIK!!! (But, also, pretty much accurate!) 

Now, instead of using the same words with varied overlays, here are 50 REASONs why Haptic Pronunciation Teaching in the new KINETIK method, including the "Embodied Oral Reading/Recast System" (EORRS) is, in my humble opinion, simply the best. 

KINETIK 

  1. is "full-body" based and fun
  2. is based in embodiment theory
  3. develops "mindful" body awareness
  4. is based, in part on American Sign Language
  5. is based, in part, on Observed Experiential Observation 
  6. uses gesture synchronized speech
  7. uses gesture-managed, spontaneous speaking
  8. is based in the neuroscience of touch
  9. is rhythm-based, done first before anything else!
  10. includes just the essentials of pronunciation
  11. is almost as good online as in person (if not better)
  12. is easy to learn to teach with (one technique at a time)
  13. is inexpensive to learn to teach with ($500 minimum for complete system)
  14. is inexpensive for students (It requires little, if any special materials, just access to online training videos)
  15. uses "regular" course content for teaching pronunciation
  16. can be applied in any skill area class
  17. is great for in class correction and feedback
  18. is excellent, with straightforward homework system
  19. is great for modeling sentences, phrases, idioms
  20. strongly enhances memory for vocabulary 
  21. strongly enhances expressiveness
  22. requires very little or no background in linguistics or phonetics to use it effectively
  23. requires very little or no background in language teaching to use it effectively
  24. uses (near revolutionary) "Embodied Oral Reading and Recast System"
  25. consistently enhances student confidence in speaking
  26. can be applied to a learner's L1 sound system
  27. engages better breathing and posture
  28. helps develop better abs!
  29. facilitates feasible peer correction and feedback
  30. is a complete scaffolded, method
  31. has highly personalized weekly face to face session (or on Zoom)
  32. facilitates development of rapport in the classroom
  33. is based on quality dialogic instruction (instructor-student, and student-student)
  34. has an amazing technique for [th]
  35. has an amazing technique for [r/l]
  36. has an amazing technique for linking
  37. has an amazing technique for word-final voiced obstruents
  38. has an amazing techniques for discourse orientation (prosody between speakers)
  39. facilitates enhanced visual presence on screen/zoom
  40. creates a relaxed classroom milieu
  41. is applicable for learners of all ages
  42. is applicable for learners of all proficiency levels
  43. is applicable for classes of all sizes
  44. is applicable for use in literacy training
  45. is based on over 50 years of pronunciation teaching experience
  46. is based on about 35 years of kinaesthetic pronunciation teaching
  47. is based on over 15 years of effective haptic pronunciation teaching
  48. is adaptable for special needs instruction
  49. is applicable for accent reduction
  50. makes some kinds of drill "great" again
For more information, goto: www.actonhaptic.com/kinetik/ or email me directly: wracton@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

"Parsing your words!" A key skill for teaching English rhythm!

A few (4) decades ago, in my first TESL course as an undergrad, we had a sentence something like the following, where the "point" was to show students that, in principle, any word in a sentence could be the location of the primary sentence stress, depending on the context and what had preceded in the conversation or story: 

                    My friend and I drove to the party in a rented, blue Ford station wagon. 

In our practicum, one of the assignments was, in fact, to have students repeat the sentence any number of times, even up to 15 in that case, where any word could be the focal or contrastive stress location. (You may have done something similar.) What that accomplished, in addition to massive confusion, is still not clear! In the unmaked condition, where that sentence somehow begins the conversation, on basic parsing would probably be: 

My friend and I / drove to the party / in a rented, / blue Ford station wagon.  

Ciker.com

To the native speaker, or near-native, that unmarked parsing is probably the concensus, and relatively easy to land on. Not so, generally, for the nonnative, however, in part because the decision as to where to parse the text relied on grammatical and discourse competence, not simply on how it "felt" to say it.  (In fact, I have found many native-speaking teacher trainees to be even less successful at producing the unmarked version of the text. They have been generally highly auditory and weak on grammar!) 

Once the "story" and previous preconceptions or events kick in, the stress could shift in any number of ways. There are some rules for guessing at the unmarked, of course, but they are not very helpful, such as:

  • Stress tends to fall:
    • on content words
    • to the right
    • on nouns or verbs, but not on prepositions, articles, adjectives or adverbs
    • important concepts introduced earlier in the narrative that are contrastive to what is expected on marked constituents (context or previous events based)

So, how does one whose L1 is not English, learn how to parse texts for students, as is the basis of the "Rhythm First" protocol of the KINETIK method, where you parse the text and identify the primary-stressed word in each parse (or rhythm) group. Good question. One way is to take the KINETIK Method Instructor Certificate Course (KMICC) where each week you work on various short texts learning how to effectively parse to the intrinsic rhythm of the written (or spoken) text. At the conclusion of the 10-week course, participants are very good at parsing texts into what we call "embodied oral readings (EORs)," the key building block of the haptic, KINETIK instructional system. 

That sound like / a very good tool / to have on hand

Or

That sound / like a very good tool / to have on hand? 

or

That sound like a very good tool/ to have on hand? 

If so, join us: actonhaptic.com/kinetik or email me directly at: wracton@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Haptic at TESOL 2022!



Haptic Pronunciation Teaching "Touching Base" at TESOL 2022 Convention in Pittsburgh, March 22~25th! If you will be at the convention, let's get in touch! I am doing one presentation with Angelina VanDyke on the 25th at 3:30, but, other than that, I'll be there just to promote the new, amazing KINETIK Method (www.actonhaptic.com/kinetik/) Alway open for a breakfast, lunch, dinner or later, of course with hapticians and other lovers of "haptic," but as in earlier years, I plan to be in the networking area next to the publishers' booths, both mid-morning and mid-afternoon for an hour or so. Also, if you are a runner, we'll probably be out each morning for 6-8km run around 6! In addition to details # on KINETIK courses, will have some new KINETIK swag as well. See you there! (Email me at: wracton@gmail.com!)



Thursday, January 27, 2022

BIG news about Haptic Pronunciation Teaching!

Size DOES matter it turns out, according to research by Masarwa, Kreichman, and Gilaie-Dotan of Bar Ilan University and University College London, summarized by NeuroscienceNews.com as "In visual memory size matters." One of the key features of Haptic Pronunciation Teaching (HaPT) is the use of relatively large sweeping gestures across the visual field in front of the class to represent sounds and patterns of the language. (As students do it along with the instructor, typically.) We have known for a couple of decades that that "larger than life" visual representation of the sounds in communicating with the class is highly effective. 

Now we have a little more evidence as to just why. In the study, simply put, under various experimental conditions, it was demonstrated that the larger image was remembered better. The researchers' conclusion:

" Our study indicates that physical stimulus dimensions (as the size of an image) influence memory, and this may have significant implications to learning, aging, development, etc."

Fascinating study, linked below. In other words, our method is "bigger" than your method. There is actually much MORE to the story, of course! Go here to find out!


and, of course, keep in touch!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Confident English Speaking, Fluency and Pronunciation--in 10 weeks!

As announced here on the blog, the new KINETIK English Fluency and Pronunciation Course is on. 

Especially designed for students who do not have much opportunity to practice speaking English outside of class! (But great for everybody else, too, of course!)

Gives you confidence to use what you “know” but may not always be able to access in speaking 

  • Applicable for literate adult learners, upper beginner level and above
  • Online, on Zoom, 2 hours of "live" class per week and about 2 hours of homework (20 minutes a day is best)
    • Weekly live Zoom class: Thursdays, 4~5 p.m. (PST) or recorded
    • Weekly live Zoom follow up: Wednesdays, in small groups, by appointment
  • Cost: $500USD (or $60 per lesson)
  • Use of embodied haptic techniques (using gesture and touch) for improving students’ fluency, memory for course content, vocabulary and intelligibility
  • Makes you easier to understand and develops better posture and breathing
  • Fixes most important pronunciation problems, or at least gets you well on the way.
  • Makes self correction easier
  • Includes effective system for continued study after the course
  • With some slight modifications is also an excellent professional development system for any instructor, native or nonnative speaking. 
Still time to sign up! February 10th ~ April 24th! Contact me: wracton@gmail.com for required initial  Zoom interview.


Monday, January 17, 2022

Improved pronunciation "in the blink of any eye!"

How important is general/not directly task-based body movement, especially the lack of it, to learning pronunciation, creativity or just learning? In haptic pronunciation teaching learners are encouraged or required to move almost constantly, primarily through speech-synchronized gesture, but also through "Mindfulness-like" practices that monitor the state of the muscles and posture of the body, along with breathing patterns. 

But what about the impact on learning when students' bodies are held more in check, with restricted motor engagement? A new study by Murali and Händel of Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Motor restrictions impair divergent thinking during walking and during sitting, summarized by ScienceDaily.com, not only affirms our intuitions about the central role of embodiment in thought and learning, but suggests something more: even while seated, a little movement appears to go a long way in maintaining creativity and attention. (What a shocker, eh? Hope you were sitting down when you read that!)

Ciker.com
The actual protocols of the research, which involved measurement of eye "blinking" responses as indices of degree of engagement, are not described in the summary, but the title of the original piece is interesting. To quote from the summary of the study: "Our research shows that it is not movement per se that helps us to think more flexibly," says neuroscientist Dr Barbara Händel from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany. Instead, the freedom to make self-determined movements (emphasis, mine there) is responsible for it." 

In other words, messing with the body's incredible range of what appear to be random movements, apparently unassociated with the task being consciously in focus, may have dramatic consequences. An extreme analogy might even be talking with friends who are somewhere on the autism or ADHD spectrums. Their body and eye movements seem to suggest that they are not pay sufficient attention when in fact that is not the case at all. 

Now I am not saying that "thinking more flexibly" at any moment in instructional time is necessarily a good thing, of course, but the principle of allowing the body to also think and create on its own on an ongoing basis, in some sense "non or extra-verbally," if  you will, certainly is. On behalf of all elementary school boys on the planet who have had to sit in/through years of class to learn with girls when we should, instead, have been outside learning with our hands and whole bodies, I can only say, AMEN! 

Think about it. While you were reading this blogpost, what "else" was your body doing? If you can't remember . . . Q.E.D (quod erat demonstrandum)

Keep in touch!

Bill

Original source: 

Supriya Murali, Barbara Händel. Motor restrictions impair divergent thinking during walking and during sitting. Psychological Research, 2022; DOI: 10.1007/s00426-021-01636-w

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Body-full-ness and (haptic) pronunciation teaching--make no mistake or at least fewer!

Avoiding, correcting, accepting, embracing errors . . . take your pick in pronunciation (and all) instruction as to how you respond when learners come up with something overly "creative" or slightly outside their optimal L2 target inventory. A 2019 study by Lin and colleagues, "How meditation can help you make fewer mistakes - Meditating just once proves to make a difference," summarized by ScienceDaily.com, draws a fascinating but not surprising connection between meditation (or mindfulness training) and "making fewer errors." 

In essence, subjects that were given 20-minutes of meditation and then, hooked up to brain monitors,  were better at performing an error avoidance task, a "computerized distraction test." This was a simple laboratory experiment, of course, but one implication, for the researchers at least, was more empirical support for the current widespread application of "mindfulness" training in education. 

If you have been following the blog, you'll recall that from a haptic perspective, I see mindfulness training, which basically focuses on body states to hold the conscious, modern neurotic mind at bay, is more accurately described as "body-full-ness" (BFN) training. BFN is the basis of haptic pronunciation teaching, prioritizing body-based rhythm engagement and then changing speech patterns through manipulation of upper body torso movement and gesture. In other words, in Lessac's words, "training the body first," is key to effective and efficient speech change and instruction. 

To learn how to teach more "haptically," in the new KINETIK Method system, goto: www.actonhaptic.com or email me directly: wracton@gmail.com and I'll be happy to Zoom you in!!!

Bill

Source:

Michigan State University. (2019, November 11). How meditation can help you make fewer mistakes: Meditating just once proves to make a difference. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 9, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191111124637.htm

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Unemotional, improvement in conscientiousness in school (and homework and pronunciation) !!!

Here is a pair of studies just too good to believe which suggest that you can train subjects (students?) to become more conscientious without much if any conscious buy in, but (SURPRISE) to train somebody to greater emotional stability takes genuine commitment on their part. Part of the "trick" apparently is to do the conscientiousness training very carefully and incrementally (and unemotionally?) so that subjects don't catch on and react negatively. 

A quick summary of the studies by Hudson of Southern Methodist University, as further summarized by our friends at Sciencedaily.com. In the first study, college students were, in essence, asked which personality trait they'd like to improve, conscientiousness or emotional stability. They were then randomly assigned to one type of treatment without being informed as to why. The "conscientiousness" training included tasks such as being better organized. 

Regardless of the students initial selection those who were trained in conscientiousness reported improvement. In a second study, students were asked the same question but some were, instead, purposely assigned to "greater emotional stability," even though that was not their choice. Believe it or not, that intervention did not work for some reason . . . 

Now setting aside the "silly" second study, that you can train students to better emotional stability without their active commitment, the idea that getting students to improve in terms of conscientiousness without their active buy in is, of course, worth considering. Highly successful instructional systems all accomplish that. 

The question is how do you "unemotionally" but effectively and consistently promote conscientiousness, especially more autonomous engagement from that perspective, even when that is not initially a conscious priority for leaners? How does your course presentation and instructional system make that work? How does culture play into that type of discipline? Let us know!

In haptic pronunciation teaching, and especially the v6.0 KINETIK Method, effective homework is critical, at least a total of two hours weekly, to achieve substantial improvement. That is accomplished, in part, by first foregrounding disciple as a key feature of the system in the course introduction and then by proscribing almost minute-by-minute, 20-minute practice routines to be done daily, best case. Be delighted to tell you much more about that, in fact: www.actonhaptic.com/KINETIK

 

Ciker.com



Friday, January 7, 2022

New! 2022 Acton Haptic English Fluency and Pronunciation Courses!

As promised, the new (Amazing!) KINETIK Method student and instructor courses are ready to go! 


KINETIK Method: Embodied fluency, content and pronunciation enhancement

Features
  • Instructor training certificate courses (12 weeks) 
  • Student courses (applicable for literate adult learners, upper beginner level and above--10 weeks)
  • Available for individuals or groups
  • Online only, on Zoom, 2 hours of "live" class per week and 3~6 hours of homework
  • Cost varies, depending on class size, from $200~$1500
  • Use of embodied techniques for improving students’ fluency, memory for course content, vocabulary and intelligibility
For the instructor:
  • Training in doing effective in-class feedback and correction
  • Requires no previous formal training in pronunciation teaching or basic pedagogical phonetics
  • Designed for instructors who do not have enough space in their lesson plans for pronunciation and effective homework assignments
  • Designed for instructors who value greater engagement of the body in instruction and general body “consciousness and agency.”
  • Provides improved personal “pedagogical voice” in classroom and classwork
  • A complete method: one adaptable for most learners and contexts
For the student:
  • Makes you easier to understand
  • Fixes most important pronunciation problems
  • Makes correction easier. . . self correction, correction by teachers and peers
  • Increases confidence in speaking in conversationi
  • Allows you to use what you “know” but may not be able to use in speaking 
  • Especially good for students who do not have much opportunity to practice speaking English outside of class
  • Includes effective system for continued study after the course
Why rhythm first, using gesture and touch:
  • Rhythm is basic to speaking and understanding language!
  • Gesture helps us emphasize rhythm and remember language.
  • Touch helps us bring our senses together to learn. remember better and control attention and body movement, in general.
  • Rhythm is key to integrating changed sound patterns.
Classes are available, beginning February 1st.

For more information: www.actonhaptic.com/KINETIK or email me directly at wracton@gmail.com
 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Hapticanar #11 - 20 Haptic Techniques (in 30 minutes!)

 If you'd like a preview of the new KINETIK Method Pronunciation Teaching Certificate Course, join us later today at the next Hapticanar, at 6 p.m., PST. Go to: https://www.actonhaptic.com/ to sign up for the free webinar. If you have missed any of the haptic (web) inars, or you can't join us live, you can always get caught up at: www.actonhaptic.com/archives.

For more on the certificate course: https://www.actonhaptic.com/kinetic or info@actonhaptic.com

Bill

Sunday, July 11, 2021

KINETIK Hapticanar #5: Double Vowels and (haptic) friends

The next Hapticanar (Haptic webinar) is part two of the haptic system for teaching the vowels of English, at the regular wenbar time, July 13th, at 6 p.m. (PST). To sign up for the series of 12 webinars, go to www.actonhaptic.com. 

The "double vowels" in general North American pronunciation in the haptic system are these: (A common set used in student pronunciation texts.) 

  • 1y [iy] “me”
  • 11w [uw] “moo”
  • 3y [ey] “may”
  • 9w [ow] “mow”
  • 6y [ay] “my”
  • 8y [Ɔy]“boy”
  • 6w [aw] “cow”
Their "friends" are simple tense vowels in English: ([i], [e], [u] and [o]. To do the double vowels, students need a little work on the simple tense vowels first. 

As usual, come for the singalong, stay for vowels!

Keep in touch!

Bill




Thursday, July 1, 2021

KINETIK Hapticanar #4: Single Vowel-arama! (Or: How I learned to love stress and vowel it!)

Haptic pronunciation teaching does an especially good job of teaching vowels and basic word stress. In this webinar we begin with what we call "single vowels," that is simple, not complex "short" vowel sounds such as in: chicken, cooks, best, with, salt, fat, love, hot. (Later in the system we do work on some other simple vowels such as tense vowels that are not stressed, such as: [i] in 'pronunciation' or [e] in 'atypical'. You'll have to wait for webinar #10 for that, however!)

If you have missed the first four KINETIK hapticanars, Introduction, Rhythm, Fluency and Consonant Supreme 1, you can both get caught up at www.actonhaptic.com and sign up for the coming webinars! 

See you there!

 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

KINETIK Webinar #3: Consonants Supreme 1 (The Best, most moving way to teach the pronunciation of 'th' and beyond!)

Duh best, most moving and efficient technique for duh 'th' sound and den some! One reason dat many metodologists advise not making 'th' a priority is dat dey don't know how to teach it well or teach others how to teach it well. Duh Haptic Pronunciation Teaching "Movement, tone and touch technique" (MT3) for 'th', inspired by a close encounter wit a popsicle stick in Japan two decades ago, is wort duh (free) price of admission for next week's webinar!

Seriously, the Haptic MT# for θ/ð is amazing . . we'll also do f/v, and y & w onglides. Don't believe me; come and try it on yourself next Tuesday, July 29th. 

Almost forgot. Bring along a coffee stirrer or popsicle stick. (Most MT3s use one!) 

Go to www.actonhaptic.com, to sign up!