Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clap-haptic improvement of motor, cognitive and pronunciation skills

In a study to investigate the effect of clapping hands on affect and cognitive processing, by Sulkin and Brodsky at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, reported in Science Daily, it was discovered, among other things, " . . . that children who spontaneously perform hand-clapping songs in the yard during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors." Young adults, " . . . once they start clapping, . . . report feeling more alert and in a better mood  . . . more focused and less tense."
Clip art: Clker

Clapping on stressed syllables is among the most common haptic techniques used in English language teaching, as well. In informal surveys of experienced and novice instructors, however, it appears that clapping, if used at all, is generally employed only in beginning stages of instruction with adults. (In children, the "clapping period" appears to be between the ages of 7 and 10.)

Using clapping in pronunciation work, although potentially effective, especially in anchoring rhythm patterns, requires an instructor who is comfortable with a higher level of physical engagement in the classroom, in general. (There are, however, some other issues related to effectiveness of repeated haptic anchoring which are addressed in other blogposts as well.) It is probably not necessary to work at the level of Marsha Chan--of whom I am a big fan--but one must be a bit more gesticular and outgoing than average, as are most pronunciation teachers. Are you a clapper? If so, according to this research, you deserve a hand!

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