Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hammering in or "haptic anchoring" of new pronunciation!

Clip art: Clker
There are few accessible models today that attempt to explain how pronunciation gets integrated into spontaneous speaking, or how to make that happen. One of the more  radical (or "retro," depending on your perspective) is that of Dr Olle Kjellin, which involves carefully engineered, massive doses of what he terms "quality repetition." The choral repetition is accompanied by various types of body engagement or awareness of the articulatory process and ingenious exercises, but the fundamental driver of integration is repetition. (I'm a big fan of Olle's work and the degree of accuracy he is able to achieve consistently--although its general applicability is somewhat limited.) Contrast that with:

(a) Communicative methods (where genuine communication or attention to the correct form/pronunciation is seen as the critical link between the form and its pronunciation, not repetition drill) or
(b) More cognitive or metacognitive approaches (where planning and insight into the problem and the system are understood as the more important influences on ultimate anchoring new forms-- "simple" repetition being not favored or recommended generally) or
(c) HICP/EHIEP-based methods where with in-situ (haptic) anchoring (changing pronunciation in the context of ongoing content-based speaking or listening-focused instruction) there should be as few overt repetitions of changed forms as possible.

It is worth repeating, however: either drill change in with gusto as does Kjellin (assuming you can keep your students engaged, outgoing and motivated) or use a lighter, meaning-centered, integrated (haptic) touch to move them to intelligible change. There appears to be relatively little "communicative middle ground" available. (One of my heroes of the structuralist/ALM era and right up until his death in 2006 was, in fact, Hector HAMMERly.)

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