Thursday, August 18, 2011

Magic pronunciation change: Look at that sound in your ear!

One of the great mysteries (or complexities or frustrations) of working with multi-sensory or multiple modality pronunciation learning systems is understanding the relative contribution of one sense to the effectiveness of the process. As you might guess, some research reveals that the senses are in some contexts highly integrated; in others, quite the opposite: the incoming data is interpreted and remains relatively partitioned. In looking at the range of possible configurations of learner cognitive styles (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic--and all possible combinations of those three where one is dominant and the other to some degree less prominent, such as: visual-auditory, auditory-visual, auditory-kinesthetic, kinesthetic-visual, etc.) the puzzle becomes even more complicated. What some research suggests, such as this 2009 study by Jacobs and Sham, is that some degree of separation or isolation of the senses might work for us in changing pronunciation.

An earlier post, Change the Channel Fallacy, focused on how difficult it can be to change "the channel," for example, modify auditory output by doing simple repetition of the correct sound, without engaging a learner's nondominant modalities, perhaps visual or kinesthetic.What that could mean is that the best avenue or potential impact  might be through nondominant modalities, not catering to the learner's preferred modality as is the common practice.

So, for the visual-auditory learner, emphasize auditory; for the auditory-visual, visual; for the kinesthetic-auditory, auditory, etc. And for almost any combination of the three main senses, try teaching more through haptic (adding touch to movement), which is generally even more outside of conscious awareness, less likely to disturb ongoing communication or thought. EHIEP methodology is not magic, but it certainly does involve a focus of attention away from the problem channel to a parallel modality where change can take place less obtrusively, a nice,  haptic "slight of hand", if  you will . . . and you should!

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