Saturday, December 3, 2011

Moving from kinaesthetic to haptic anchoring of pronunciation

Clip art: Clker
For about 30 years I had been working with movement in the visual field using gestures such as waving a hand in the shape of the mountain to suggest a rise-fall intonation contour--before "discovering" haptic research. Once I began anchoring contours haptically, generally with hands touching in various ways on stressed words or syllables, students were consistently better able to practice, produce and comprehend intonation. This study by Jay, Stevens, Hubbold and Glencross perhaps suggests why: haptic anchoring (touch) of nodes or boundaries in the visual field was shown to significantly enhance subjects' ability to later navigate the nodes and positions of the field.

In HICP work, not only do learners better recall the anchored, improved sound in a word, they also should naturally associate other words or expressions with that node/sound as well.  (That effect, too, is anticipated by research reported in earlier blogposts.) That is not to say that typical classroom random gestures are not "touching" . . . just that adding touch makes them much more effective and manageable--and moving! 

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