Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Sensational" pronunciation teaching? Chances are about 50/50.

Clip art: CLker
Here is a brief summary of an article by Killingsworth and Gilbert published in the journal, Science. It includes this interesting quote from the article: “The ability to think about what isn’t happening is a significant cognitive achievement, but one that comes at an emotional cost.” The data revealed that most of us are "in the present moment" emotionally, only about 50% of the time, at best. The concept of "mindfulness," sensing as much as possible the "felt sense" of our body (e.g., heart rate, muscle tension, breathing) and learning to function within it--not trying to escape it or cool it down consciously-- is applied extensively in many fields today.

One of the great advantages of multiple modality instruction is that it provides a means of (at least momentarily) capturing the full attention of the mind to the task at hand. Haptic techniques, engaging the body as they do, if done with correct form and perhaps some eye tracking, are "mindful" or mind-filling in the best (felt) sense. It is not that clear explanations, discussion, insight, planning and disembodied drilling related to a learner's pronunciation are not helpful; they are, of course--but they can also easily interfere with efficient anchoring of sound change.

In other words, stop thinking about pronunciation and how difficult, time-consuming and anxiety-producing it can be. Just do it (haptically)!

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