Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pronunciation word lists ride again!

Although a bit "retro" at face value, the previous post on the impact of patterning on sign language memory access (, suggests that having learners practice (haptic-anchored) word lists such as those linked above, even of semantically unrelated words, may have some real value, especially in dealing with fossilized pronunciation where the "felt sense" of a word must be replaced. Imagine! Decontextualized, dis-integrated pronunciation work! We will figure out a way to test that hypothesis--soon!

Why a little stress in pronunciation work is maybe a good thing!

Turns out that perhaps being in a good mood is bad for working memory! None would  accuse your average pronunciation lesson of being overly "warm fuzzy" or laid back. What this research seems to suggest is that being juiced affectively may be good for spiking creativity but you'll be less likely to remember what was to be learned later. This relates to an earlier post on what is potentially "wrong" with some drama-based pronunciation teaching: uncontrolled fun and excitement. HIIP (Haptic-integrated, Integrated Pronunciation), our new acronym, aims at management of all modalities, simultaneously--done in a spirit of  productive good fun and whole-body engagement.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Associating movement with sounds and words

The research reported above examines the link between recall of words and signs in American Sign Language subjects. What was discovered was that recall for words that have signs made with similar strokes across the visual field was better than for words that had significantly different sign/stroke patterns. (In other words, the sign serves as a strong associative hub-like function.) What that implies for HIPoeces work is that learners should, for example, be able to better recall the stressed vowel in a word, since the sign-like stroke used in HIPoeces for that vowel is used in all other words the learner has practiced with the same vowel sound. The principle should apply also for rhythm patterns and intonation contours/processes. Numerous studies of the impact of haptic or kinesthetic-related memory validate that general concept:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

HIIP (Haptic-integrated Integrated Pronunciation)

One of the clearest themes emerging from the SPLIS (Speech-pronunciation-listening Interest Section) presentations at the 2011 TESOL conference has been the need for integration of pronunciation into skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) classes, and content classes. Next year's academic session may, in fact, focus on just that. The "problem" is that simply doing pronunciation exercises in a skills class, regardless of how communicative or clever, often does not work--unless there is a strong connection to the language content being learned--not just practice of the process or sounds themselves.In other words, sticking in pieces of a pronunciation text in "regular" classes is not the answer. Research has been telling us for some time that we need much more anchoring and integrated practice if the instructional "stuff" is going to stick.(Why that is the case will be the subject of a later post.)  Haptic-integrated protocols are, in essence, teaching techniques that are used throughout the curriculum, exploiting any text or conversation where oral or listening comprehension is involved. The impact of haptic work, referenced in many of the earlier posts, is to powerfully anchor new learning and provide learners with techniques to use outside of the classroom as well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Felt Sense of a HIPoeces Workshop

Saturday, March 12th, I did a 6 hour workshop with Region 4 in Houston. Participants were a mix of relatively inexperienced instructors and administrators. Focus was on training that would be relevant for instructors w/zero background in pronunciation teaching. What I learned: (a) In working HIP with (larger) groups, distance from the instructor to the students at the back of the room is critical. Maximum distance is probably 40 feet. (b) Instructor modeling must be absolutely unambiguous, that is upper body movement has to be very easy to follow, especially at 40 feet, (c) participants can be brought to a point where they get the "felt sense" of all (8) protocols/techniques--but most will need a video-model to work with in class to take all of the system to their students effectively (What a concept!), and (d) six hours straight of aerobic-like presentation and practice is a workout . . . even for the physically and conceptually "fit!"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Touch-activated Ganglion (TAGs)

In every HIPoeces protocol, four modalities should be engaged simultaneously: sound, touch, sight and movement--focusing attention on a sound, word, phrase or prominent discourse element. The action, the nexus of those modalities, we have termed a TAG (touch-activated ganglion), emphasizing the role of touch in the process. Research on the coordination of modalities reported above suggests that the effect of such concentration of attention can be very substantial, as long as the timing and modality parings are optimal. What that means in practical terms is that it is very important that learners are trained to experience all modalities as vividly or intensely as possible (the felt sense of a sound, sound process or bit of text.) That principle has been exploited systematically in all great voice/mind/body systems. My favorite, of course, is that of Arthur Lessac.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Visual-Haptic Interfaces, Modification of Motor and Cognitive Performance

The virtual-reality technology to potentially "embody" HIPoeces models and protocols has been developed in several areas, including surgical training and rehabilitation therapies. In the review linked above, the mechanism for directing the hands and arms around the visual field, through what are termed "corridors," through haptic-based guiding feedback is described. What is of particular interest are the reports of experimental studies demonstrating the potential for enhancement of both motor and cognitive abilities using visual-haptic interfaces. As I have noted elsewhere, this is the future of pronunciation teaching.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

HIP Intonation Protocol Focusing Framework (based on Gendlin (1996)

The HIPoeces/EEPOS protocol for teaching intonation contours conforms to Gendlin’s focusing 6-stage  framework (see previous blog post):
(a) Clearing the space, i.e., beginning by moving hands through the entire visual field,
(b) Identifying the felt sense, i.e., targeting the somatic sensation of the intonation contour, along with its linguistic or grammatical form
(c) Attending to the "handle" or word that best fits the felt sense, i.e., visualizing the graphic form (spelling) and meaning of the word or phrase,
(d) Experiencing the body resonance (vibration, etc.), i.e., attending primarily to the overall body experience,
 (e) Asking, reflectively how the felt sense and language selected "fit", i.e., making sure that all modalities are engaged, and
(f) What Gendlin refers to as "receiving," i.e., integrated learning—being uncritically/unconsciously open to the convergence of the body sensation with the cognitive, reflective understanding of the holistic experience (so that the target phrase or form will be more consistently "up-taken!")

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Haptic Focus

How can we describe effective focusing on a sound or text with haptic anchoring? Gendlin's (1996) "Six steps of focusing" provides a good model. Whether we are talking about "focus on form" in contemporary language teaching, dealing with the felt sense of a psychological problem--or in our case, attempting to efficiently "get" a new or corrected sound complex in pronunciation instruction, the same process applies: (a) Clearing the space, (b) identifying the felt sense, (c) attending to the "handle" or word that best fits the felt sense, (d) experiencing the body resonance (vibration, etc.) attendant to the word and feeling, (e) asking, reflectively how the felt sense and language selected "fit", and (f) what Gendlin refers to as "receiving," that is being open to the convergence of the body sensation with the cognitive, reflective understanding of the whole experience. In the next post, we will come back to those six steps and (sort of) phenomenologically unpack that set of procedures with an example from a basic HIPoeces protocol.