Monday, May 30, 2011

Is it "the drill" or "the thrill" in pronunciation learning?

Clip art: Clker
Apparently it is the latter--when it comes to efficient learning in young children. In a remarkable study by Medina, Trueswell, and Gleitman, of the University of Pennsylvania and Snedeker,of Harvard University, reviewed by Science Digest (a frequent source of good links for us), it appears that new words and concepts are best learned in insightful "hot" events (i.e., teachable moments), rather than through repeated, gradual associations building up over time. Asher, in the 1960s, came to a similar conclusion in studying the effect of learning a command on the first attempt, as opposed "getting it" gradually. He found that the faster learned; the more accurately recalled.

That is also the essential assumption of HICP work: haptic-anchoring of sounds, words and related processes (done correctly) should be consistently so vivid, engaging and attention grabbing--that what is learned is learned quicker and deeper. Turns out that the rap on  mechanical, mind-numbing drill in pronunciation teaching as not being the cost efficient way to learn is closer to the truth than we had realized. "Keep in touch" with this line of research; it is very likely just the beginning of a revolution in how we think about integrated, experiential learning.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Experiential pronunciation learning

Probably the best model for understanding how haptic-integrated pronunciation work should work is Kolb's (1984) "experiential learning cycle." His four stages are (A) concrete experience, (B) reflective observation, (C) abstract conceptualization, and (D) active experimentation. 

Clip art: Clker
Haptic-integrated instruction makes Stage A a much more multiple modality experience The HICP framework from the outset contains strong elements of the visual/cognitive engagement as well, in addition to movement and touch sensations. (Many typical pronunciation teaching techniques begin with Stage B.) While maintaining the "felt sense" of the sound or word, in Stage C, the learner "attaches" its formal properties (its grammatical functions and collocation--where it occurs in conversation, etc.) as it is practiced. In Stage D, as the new or repaired sound is initially used in speaking or attended to in listening, the haptic anchor (the somatic/body feeling of the targeted sound) should be re-experienced or felt, signalling to the learner at a marginally conscious level such that it is noticed and further integrated. 

One frequent, sometimes humorous side effect of EHIEP work is that a new word is so strongly anchored in instruction that learners may get temporary "flash backs" to the training protocols or the classroom or the specific lesson. That, of course, also serves as delightful confirmation that learning is in process! (See earlier post on the "Hexis" of haptic-integrated instruction as well.) 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Touching memories

The nature of our memory for touch is apparently quite different from that of movement. The summary of the study linked above notes that, "A new touch does not erase the memory of a previous touch from working memory. Rather, new and old tactile memories can persist independently of each other, once a person's attention has registered the touches. (emphasis, mine) " The same is not the case with many forms of  movement, however,  which can be "replaced" by new movement patterns. What that means is that haptic anchoring, being a nexus of both movement and touch should be much more accessible to memory than movement (kinesthetic anchoring) by itself--and conscious attention to touch "events" (or TAGs) as we refer to them, should substantially enhance  learning the sound system.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning with students

One of the key principles of HIPoeces methodology is that, in a very real sense, instructors must learn the system  along with their students--literally. In an innovative proposal, Murphey et al (2004) argue that primary school teachers in Japan do something similar. As noted in earlier posts, there are in fact a number of reasons why it is generally preferable in haptic-integrated pronunciation work for the class to learn and practice key elements of the system following a video model, not from their instructors, at least initially, but with them. (Haptically-Integrating) O/ECE Pronunciation teachers of the world: Outsource!

Murphey, T., Asaoka, C., & Sekiguchi, M. (2004). Primary teachers co-learning english with their students. The Language Teacher, 28(2), 15-18.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Optic visuality versus haptic dance

An interesting distinction coming from the art world that captures something of what we attempt to achieve with haptic integration. In "optic" mode, as we stand in front of a sculpture, for example, we remain capable of considering the form, as well as potentially experiencing the piece as a whole. In "haptic dance" mode, however, we are "grabbed" by the artistic creation in a way that seems to bar reflection and other pre-frontal "cortexing"-- something analogous to Krashen's relatively useless, binary,  "acquisition vs learning" distinction. Continuous haptic integration (Chi) does aim for (and achieve) at least moments of total attention and concentration. Shall we dance?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Learning of haptic Icons

This study by Swerdfeger (2009) investigates the impact of rhythm and "melody" on learning of haptic icons. Haptic icons are touch and movement-based symbols, very much like those used in HIPoeces protocols, where a sound is anchored to the  visual field by movement and touch.  One of the findings is that rhythm tends to facilitate the process, whereas melodic elements (intonation) appear to be a wash at best, in some conditions interfering with anchoring. The implications of this work for understanding what haptic contributes to pronunciation instruction are fascinating. One perhaps coincidental parallel is the concept that learning a set of seven icons may be approaching the maximum number in this type of teaching system. The EHIEP vowel protocol (see earlier post) works with visual schemas of 7 "short" and 7 "double" vowels--presented and practiced with strong rhythmic grounding.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Potential Hapticnical terms


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Integrated Pronunciation Teaching

An interesting piece by Bainbridge and O'Shea (2010) on integrating pronunciation instruction in communicative work. Although it is not clear how one with less experience in voice work or  training in theater could pull off what they describe, they are still very much on target in their general approach--especially in the use of mood, controlled attention and movement. There are many examples such as this one of instructors who have developed relatively idiosyncratic systems which are obviously effective. Now if somebody could just figure out how to systematize such a framework so that it was more easily accessible to the rest of us . . .