Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Haptic control

This is an extraordinary piece by William Bogard on societal and phenomenological dimensions of haptic control or management or influence.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Haptic Exploration

In a very real sense, the term "haptic exploration" as defined by Scholarpedia is consistent with the HIPoeces approach to pronunciation instruction. The haptic engagement is experienced by the learner both as exploration of the embodied sound system and simultaneously as a potentially powerful provider of anchors for learning and recall.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Haptic is hot!

Not immediately relevant to our research but it does suggest that "haptic" rocks . . . or at least that HIPoeces is "hip!"

Improving Haptic Memory

In principle, the haptic emphasis in HIPoeces systems should serve to enhance a learner's haptic memory or at least highten awareness of touch in locations that are used for anchoring sounds and sound processes. For some learners the addition of touch to the "ganglion" of auditory-visual-kinesthetic is exceedingly powerful from the outset. For others, it develops adequately for the system to work. For some, their sense of touch seems relatively disconnected and may require some type of training as evident in the touch game in the video. The idea of working with all learners on haptic memory improvement, outside of the pedagogical process itself, may be worth exploring as well.

Haptic "Vision" and New Media

Interesting summary of earlier research into the impact of some new media forms: the brain experiences it in areas associated with touch. Here is a second theoretical piece on "haptic vision" which connects vision and touch more directly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Exercise and short term memory

In the event that you have any rats in your class, exercising them will apparently help to clear out their short term memories, sending the contents there into more permanent storage, giving them more "space" to learn more with. Now if we can just find a pronunciation class to try that out on . . .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teaching lexical stress in Media Hyper-Culture

The continued emphasis on teaching rules for assigning lexical stress, especially to students who have access to good audio sources of relevant English input in today's expanding media melieu is becoming more and more questionable, a potential anachronism worth examining. The focus even a decade ago on preparing students to correctly guess at lexical stress, generally assuming lack of audio models, made sense for many students, especially those in pre-academic programs where their experience was still basically visual, print-based. In today's media culture, where for most internet access to appropriate models of English pronunciation is a reality, the notion that getting lexical stress still has to be essentially a "visual" problem makes less and less sense. In HIPoeces methodology, the assumption is that by effective multi-dimensional anchoring of a new word--including its lexical stress pattern, the necessity of excessive attention to the metacognitive sets of stress assignment rules is becoming quickly redundant, and in many cases not necessary at all. How much time a method, any method, assigns to conscious work on lexical stress rules and its efficacy is certainly worth review.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Visual learning in multi-sensory environments

The complex interrelationships between visual, auditory and haptic modalities in learning reviewed in this article address one of the central claims in HIPoeces work: that simultaneous engagement of positions in the visual field, accessed and designated by movement and touch, and anchored by both auditory feedback through the ears and somatic resonance in the bones of the neck and skull form a very powerful nexus.That drawing together of sensory data in one "clump," along with the metacognitive, linguistic context of the sound, word or larger construction (what we refer to as a TAG = touch-activated ganglion) is key.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A "touch" for language learning

(Haptic) Touch-screens have been available for decades, of course, but some of the newer portable applications of that technology to language learning signal what is coming. For example, BYKI, iPhone apps for Japanese, AccelaStudy,  Rosetta Stone--and many others have iPhone apps. There is, however, nothing out there right now that is worth endorsing for (HIPoeces-haptic) pronunciation work at the moment, but it won't be long. For example, Laura Sicola at the University of Pennsylvania is developing an iPhone app for learning English prosody that is very promising.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Proto-typical haptic anchoring can be fun!

This one was also linked in the right-hand column recently under "techniques" but it is too good to miss. It meets most of the criteria: directed touch somewhere on the body (actually termed, "tagging" in HIPoeces) on stressed or focused words or syllables, and full-body engagement. We could almost add another criterion, as evident here and in many haptic-integration techniques: fun. Recommendation: Do this one along with the video (the basic format of HIPoeces instruction) half a dozen times if you can't get going some morning.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Integrated curriculum, integrated skills and integrated experience

The term "integrated" is used in several senses in the field: integrated curriculum integrated skills instruction, and  ESL content integration.The 'I" in HIPoeces, by contrast, refers to an approach to facilitating learner ability to integrate and use aspects of English pronunciation introduced in the classroom and subsequently practiced -- in spontaneous speaking. For the most part, the curricula used with HIPoeces systems are integrated, as is the skill focus and requirement that all modalities be engaged simultaneously to the extent possible. The key, however, is the "addtional", systematic focus on movement and touch (haptic) that should substantially enhance the learning of pronunciation.As noted in previous posts, the basic framework for conceptualizing that process has been inspired and informed by the work of psychotherapists Bradshaw and Cook in Observed Experiential Integration Therapy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Interrelationship of vision to touch

According to this study, the blind develop faster tactile processing. What is interesting is what that reveals about the interplay between the senses, in general, in learning. The question in HIPoeces work is to what extent can touch and felt sense (see previous post) complement the auditory/visual engagement of typical instruction, avoiding the "change the channel fallacy" (see previous post)--more effectively anchoring kinesthetic "moves" and sensations of vocal cord vibrations, along with sympathetic resonance in the bones of the skull.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The "felt sense" of speaking

The term, felt sense, was coined by psychologist Eugene Gendlin to refer to the complex, conscious awareness of body sensations, awareness that is both felt (emotionally, holistically) and sensed (cognitively, reflectively). Most importantly, once such a state is appropriately identified (usually with the assistance of a therapist or coach) there is a better chance that it can be managed and perhaps used constructively. The extension of that idea to various types of "body-centered" therapies and therapeutic techniques has interesting implications for (cognitive) pronunciation instruction.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kinesthetic vs haptic-augmented techniques

I'll be linking to two new YouTube videos in the next couple of days that demonstrate the treatment of vowels in HIPoeces. The move from my earlier "simple" kinesthetic focus, where speech was accompanied by hands and arms flailing around in front of the upper body, began several years ago. I had figured out that working with a virtual IPA vowel chart and having learner move their arms to positions in the chart as they said the vowel was potentially very effective, but I could not get any learner to consistently go to the same place for a given vowel. Particularly as the arms tired, the vowels quality setting would sink as well! About that time I also began working with Rick Bradshaw in Observed Experiential Integration Therapy (See right sidebar for link to OEI website). OEIT makes extensive use of the visual field and involves some haptic anchoring as well. It may also have been watching a flamingo dancer that gave me the idea of having students basically clap their hands in the correct locations. Regardless, once I started experimenting with that model, students ability to consistently anchor and recall the pronunciation of vowels improved dramatically. It was just a matter of finding the right "touch!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How ballerinas make it look so easy . . .

Learning to dance uses more than kinesthetic memory. Conversely, by "accompanying" the speaking of phrases or clauses to be learned with arm/hand movements which draw out intonation contours in the air--a common practice with pronunciation teachers, acquiring new sounds becomes a dance involving much more than just auditory and visual memory. (To that, HIPoeces typically adds touch of some kind on key elements.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Firefox issue

I have recently heard that some are having problems w/accessing the blog on Firefox. Crome and Safari seem ok. Have contacted Support and will get it fixed as soon as possible. ***It appears to be resolved.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Principles of stage movement

Here is a brief Prezi by Mary Martin describing the basic approach of contemporary stage movement. In essence, it is quite similar to the requirement for "full body" engagement in EHIEP training. As noted in the right column, the work of Arthur Lessac in voice and stage movement was most influential in providing a way to conceptualize movement and teach from within it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The "Change the Channel Fallacy"

Several years ago a colleague who worked in addiction counseling explained to me why many therapeutic approaches to addiction fail: they try to change the channel. By that he meant that the method may "simply" try to convince the brain to go for "good" pleasure rather than bad, like switching drugs--or exchange good thoughts for bad. That is why successful treatments are multi-modal, using some other channel from the one the addiction is logged into to eventually change the behavior or the problematic channel. In my view that is one of the key reasons that pronunciation work can fail as well: (simply) trying to substitute sounds, in the auditory track. That is why, in many cases, cognitive and meta-cognitive "treatments" or instructional focus can be successful--depending on the modality preferences of the learner. That is also why, haptic engagement seems to work.

Both kinesthetic (movement) and tactile (touch)are, for most, secondary channels which can be trained without directly confronting the primary processing channels, whether visual or auditory. Ironically and somewhat counter intuitively, for a highly visual learner, a strong auditory training focus may work, or vice versa. One the principles of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) which I have found most helpful is: for maximum effect, try to anchor a sensation in a learner's secondary or tertiary channel, not primary. How you figure out what that means in a big class is a matter for another post, but you see/hear/feel/are moved or touched by the idea?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What constitutes a "haptic technique?"

"Haptic" involves movement and touch. That can involve anything from clapping hands to holding an object (such as a baton) and beating out a rhythm, much like a conductor. Simple enough. In HIPoeces methodology, the haptic "event", the touching, is generally associated with word, phrasal or discourse-level stress positioning. Furthermore, in most cases it involves one hand touching the other or part of the body, such as a forearm or shoulder. The haptic engagement is either following prepared texts or driving spontaneous speaking at more advanced levels. The "Rhythm Fight club" Youtube videos linked in the column to the right in principle (and good fun) meet that criteria--but are not standard procedures! I will link to two more YouTube videos of model HIP techniques shortly.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Haptic augmentation of instruction

A study exploring the effect of adding haptic engagement (touch + movement) to science instruction. (No real surprise but . . . ) it helped--significantly! The HIPoeces approach is multi-sensory or multiple-modality based, that is the attempt is always to engage all senses simultaneously. As noted elsewhere, the systematic use of touch in most procedures is central to the methodology. I have only anecdotal evidence thus far that touch augmentation in pronunciation consistently enhances "uptake" and recall of instructional targets--but the evidence from several other fields (such as science instruction)as to the impact and potency of touch is unequivocal.

Impact of touch on body representation

The terminating point of most of the "strokes" or movements in HIPoeces techniques is typically one hand touching the other. This study focuses on the relative strength of the touching hand vs the hand being touched. The implications of that finding for how techniques are executed and the positioning of the hand being touched are important for anchoring sounds and sensations most effectively.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Touch and memory research

The application of tactile, kinesthetic and spatial dimensions (along with simultaneous visual and auditory schema) of the HIPoeces model is designed to assist the learner in changing or learning new sounds and sound processes efficiently--and recalling the material later. As noted elsewhere, "touch" is probably the distinctive of HIPoeces work. (See also the link to the American Sign Language visual dictionary for examples of well-established multi-sensory nexus.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hands on work

Although not a research study, this article neatly makes the case for the use of "manipulatives" in content ESL/EFL instruction. As mentioned in the left and right column in various places, there is more to HIPoeces methodology than simply movement and touch as anchors or stimulants to learning. Holding a rubber band and stretching it on stressed vowels in words to anchor the sensation of long vs short vowels is proposed as a useful technique in pronunciation teaching (cf.Gilbert, 2007)--but it does not meet the criteria of the touch occurring ONLY on the stressed or focal element, not the rest of the word. In that case, the sensation of the rubberband is continuous, not discreet. The "nexus" of sound, sight, movement and highly focused touch is here proposed as the "sine qua non" of the system.

Kinesthetic learning preference

Although methodologically suspect, this study does reveal a kinesthetic (not haptic, per se, but leaning in the right direction) learning preference in Malaysian EFL learners and has a useful literature review. There are numerous studies supporting the efficacy of kinesthetic-oriented instruction and learner preference for kinesthetic learning styles. In many instances, in general usage in the field, however, the terms, kinesthetic, tactile and haptic are used interchangeably. There are, as far as I am aware, no published studies in the ESL/EFL literature on strictly haptic-oriented methods or techniques.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Gesture and learning

Interesting study examining the contribution of gesture to learning and recalling language.

Spacing and visual recognition

The strategic use of visual space is fundamental to HIPoeces systems. In some ways quite analogous to the phonesthetic qualities vowels (See earlier post), the visual schema represented by the adapted International Phonetic Alphabet vowel chart used here, assumes that different areas of the visual field are more sensitive to different colors or hues. In HIPoeces work, the vowel chart from the students' perspective is a mirror image of the standard IPA layout. The front vowels are on the right; back vowels, on left. There are a number of reasons for that, but, in essence, it is because that positioning in the visual field maps on very well to some models of the overall functioning of the different areas in the visual field. Put very roughly, using color, the right visual field (in this system) is more "yellow"; the left, more blue; the center, more green. The top of the visual field is lighter; the bottom, darker, creating hues. That general distribution of sensory differentiation is at least metaphorically consistent with any number of human conceptual systems that are referenced through a two dimensional visual schema. (Much more on that general, fascinating question--later!)

Gesture and better speaking

Speech-synchronized gesture has long been recognized as central to both coherence and focus or emphasis. HIPoeces provides systematic, continuous use of "gesture-synchronized speech," in effect allowing the body to drive the voice, rather than the contrary.

Touch and recognition

Most HIPoeces work involves touch where learners move their arms/hands through space in front of the upper body, completing the stroke with touch. In addition to the research study link above, the McMaster University Tactile Research Laboratory is good source for basic understanding of how touch works.

Learning by speaking output

There has been a very decided, relatively recent bias against pushed output, "forcing" learners into verbal output prematurely--or even requiring a "silent period" in the process.

Hand "motivation"

There is extensive research concerning the relative emotional intensity of left vs right hand. In HIPoeces, that asymmetry is assumed and exploited pedagogically. The handedness and eye dominance effects vary greatly with individuals, but some general principles are evident.

Words and gesture functioning

Gestural, or haptic, anchoring is central to establishing word-level stress patterns and collocations in the system.

New perspective on motor learning

Connecting up the essential motor learning of pronunciation work with the cognitive and metacognitive research agendas of research currently continues to be problematic, at best. But the connection between motor learning and speech perception is important to work in this area.

Tactile learning study

The use of touch is probably the most innovative aspect of the HIPoeces approach.

Gesture and speech

The collocation of gesture and a number of aspects of speech and speaking have been clear for sometime. Research and practice in ESL/EFL has, with few exceptions, not acknowledged that important nexus.

Phonesthetics of products & vowels

The positioning of the vowel "chart" in the visual space in front of the learner has important neurophysiological implications.

Touch-related research article

In the overall system, the use of sign-language-like movements takes on a more integrated and "instrumental" function.

There is also, of course, the MIT Haptic Lab