Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cooperative Attending Skills Training for ESL students and haptic feedback

Clip art: Clker
I was not aware that this article by Corrine Cope and myself from 1999 on "attending skill" training was still accessible. (The linked Eric version is a relatively poor quality pdf, but still readable.) It provides what I think is still an excellent framework for creating very focused, peer monitoring group conversation where students can work on integrating in new and corrected sounds or words or phrases or strategies into their spontaneous speech. I have used some version of attending skill training in virtually every ESL/EFL class I have taught (of any size and level) and I recommend it highly. In addition to assisting students in becoming simply better listeners, it provides them with a (relatively) stress free and supportive setting where they can  experiment with new language and where peers can actually be of real value in helping them do that.

Two "haptic" applications:  (1) Learners are relaxed to the point in speaking that they have a much better chance of staying tuned in to the "felt sense" of their voice, and, consequently are more likely to detect (unobtrusively) haptic anchored-errors or changes, and (2) when peers observe a problem with a targeted element of pronunciation in one of the speakers, they, or the instructor can provide appropriate "haptic feedback," that is (possibly) saying the word or phrase using a haptically anchored corrected version or request that the speaker try to provide it in the debriefing session.

It can be clinical pronunciation work at its best--in part probably because attending skill training was developed in counseling psychology in the first place. It can also change the way you "attend to" integrating sound change in the classroom.

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