Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pronunciation change anxiety? Check your analogy!

Clip art: Clker
As explored in an earlier blogpost, golf may be one of the best analogies for the process of pronunciation learning, especially the relationship between skill development and "competence" on the course under pressure. There is a mind-boggling array of techniques and mental tricks to keep the golfer in the game, "mindful," as noted in another recent post. In studying why professional athletes "choke," exploring the effect of, for example, paying too much attention to mechanics momentarily--and how they manage not to, researchers were surprised to find a common strategy: analogies. Who'd of thought . . .

Here is one they suggest: "For example, a golfer who grips the club too tight when she's nervous might benefit from an instruction like 'Imagine you have an open tube of toothpaste between your hands and the contents must not be pushed out.' This would both address the problem and get her attention away from how well she's doing."

Wow! I never thought of that. We clearly need some good haptic analogies like that one. Do you have any? Well . . . how about: Imagine you have an open tube of grey poupon in your hand and the contents must be pushed out gently on your stressed syllables as you talk to your boss, telling him that he is a real jerk and you quit! See if you can squeeze or "sandwich" that one in sometime!

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