Sunday, November 20, 2011

The rhythm of (haptic) English linking (training)

Clip art: Clker
Here is a 9-minute video of the "standard" approach to teaching English linking by McIntyre--done very well--from the 2003 Clearly Speaking project, headed by Burns and Claire.

Opinion in the field is split as to just how much time should be spent between working on comprehension of linking, as opposed to active training in producing linked speech. On fixed phrases such as "black'n white," etc., teaching production makes sense. Requiring students to practice linking on sentences such as: "They_ate_every_orange_in_Norman's _bucket!"--a common practice in "elocution" training--as a model for them of what good speaking should resemble, is recommended by few that I am aware of. (The 1982 student book still used in some programs, Whaddayasay?, does suggest that, in fact.)

The EHIEP approach, on the contrary, assumes that students have at least been introduced to linking in listening comprehension work, much as done by McIntyre. The effective haptic anchoring of rhythm and rhythm groups in practice and conversation should do three things: (1) encourage the natural phonological process of linking when rhythm and stress are appropriately balanced, (2) create a strong contrast between stress and unstressed elements that de-emphasizes backgrounded material, and (3) promote overall intelligibility so that "missing" linking is not as noticeable. "Whadayagonnadoweh?"

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