Monday, August 22, 2011

Metalinguistic feedback and "Tell backs" in correcting pronunciation errors

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
This interesting paper by Reed and Michaud that illustrates where the field is headed, especially how cognitive phonologists view the priorities of the process of correcting errors in spontaneous speech. The two key strategies are to (metalinguistic) instruct the learner to do something with the piece of sound to fix it, and then (tell back) have the student report back to the instructor in quasi-technical terms what the problem is and the preferred method for fixing it. And then fix it. (I may be overtruncating the process a bit, of course!) For some learners, I'm sure that works, especially those more advanced in EAP programs, where metalinguistic work (talk about language structure and awareness) is the essence of the pedagogical process.

Now haptic anchoring could, in principle, be applied after the student has talked back to the instructor--and I'm sure that would be the response from Reed and Michaud. There appears, however, to be no evidence at present to verify that method in correcting pronunciation, although there is substantial research supporting such metalinguistic "chat" in the areas of grammar and vocabulary. From a HICP/EHIEP perspective, of course, metacognitve reflection for the most part follows haptic anchoring, not the reverse. I don't  find this "tell back" innovation/development a cause for great optimism at this point, but I'm sure that I can be talked out it . . .

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