Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Putting a new face on pronunciation instruction

If you need a good analogy or "hapticananalogy," as we say . . . consider cosmetics. Applying make up is about as haptic as human experience gets. Linked is an interesting study of consumers in Taiwan. In the analysis, a set of parameters emerged that points to what may be a new rubric of some kind for EHIEP work. Here they are: (I have slightly rearranged them so that the ones applicable are listed first.)

  • Life style: active, enthusiastic and practical . . . traditional, impulsive and cautious. 
  • Product values: self-satisfaction, excitement, sense of accomplishment, fun and enjoyment . . . self-respect, warm relations with others, sense of belonging, security and reverence. 

The last five product values should almost certainly be enhanced by our work or any good instruction but are not as "rubric-able" as the others! (Or they are "ru-'bric-u-tous"?) In early EHIEP instruction, learners do homework in front of a mirror. This is, indeed, a very good looking system!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Damasio on consciousness

Since I am back in the "hero list" mode recently, must link to a December 2011 TED talk by Antonio Damasio. If you are not aware of his work, it is probably time you were. EHIEP, like any other teaching methodology, attempts to manage consciousness at least momentarily to achieve its goals. This video will hold yours for about 18 minutes . . . guaranteed. If that one is a bit too philosophical for you and you'd prefer to experience something a bit more down to earth--but about as frightening as scaling Burj Khalifa tower with Tom Cruise, try this TED video by Ariel Garten on knowing thyself with a brain scanner . . . 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Off the wall" example of the felt sense of haptic anchoring

If you haven't seen Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, yet, it is worth the ticket just to see Tom Cruise go up the side of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world . . . from about the 120 floor to the 130th, wearing "haptic gloves" that stick to glass . . . at least the left one! In IMAX the special effects are fantastic; you feel like you are free climbing with him. One of the best "haptic videos" I have seen . . .or felt! With one glove malfunctioning he, of course, accomplishes the impossible. Every time the "magnetic" left hand clamps onto the glass (with terrific sound effects) you can feel it in your left had as well. (If you are not a great fan of extreme heights, your palms will be activated already, of course!)

So if you would like to experience a couple of minutes of extreme haptic anchoring, not entirely unlike your average EHIEP protocol lesson . . . your mission, should you accept it . . . is just to accept it!

The "Rhythm method": a piece of cake

One of my early heros was Louis Hjelmslev, originator of the linguistic theory or model called, Glossematics. It laid the foundation for structuralist work in semiotic network-based models, which have since morphed into contemporary frameworks of mind and brain. His book, Prolegomena to a Theory of Language (published the year I was born!), had--and still has--a major influence on how I look at language production from the perspective of the learner. Hjelmslev's central epistemological principle was that of the "glosseme," the minimal meaningful unit of analysis in describing a language system. In phonology, for example, it was the phoneme; in semantics, the 'cememe'; in grammar, the morpheme, etc.

In other words, within an experiential system, you focused initially on the "sign" (in the semiotic sense of an icon that has independent meaning and point back to something.) In another type of analysis, even on the same data, that might not be the place you begin your analysis, but it was acceptable from a functional perspective. (I am grossly oversimplifying this . . . but glossematically . . . that is probably ok?)

My point here? In HIPC/EHIEP work, the key organizing principle, as noted two post earlier, is grammar/rhythm grouping of the words that are being haptically anchored. The best analogy I have come up with, and I welcome your recommending a better one, is a piece (or slice) of cake. In this sense:
(a) We begin with defining the mood of the spoken discourse--what kind of cake is this?: What is the emotional felt sense of the speakers. If it is as simple classroom exercise, we might term it "business-like" or "boring to the extreme."
(b) We identify the prominent words or syllables--what will be it's visual features or distinct "flavors"
(c) We mix the ingredients and bake the cake: We read it over quickly to get the story or narrative.
(d) We cut out a piece of it, each piece containing one prominent syllable or more,
(e) We examine the prominent syllable more carefully and anchor it for vowel quality.
(f) We practice/anchor the piece, by itself, focusing on rhythm and the prominent syllable.
(g) We add on the analog "wave" contour (intonation contour) that is contained by the boundaries of the piece.
(h) We add on any necessary additional expressiveness--in the form of dynamic pitch changes.
(i) We go back to a rhythm focus, blending all the ingredients back together, still staying centered on the prominent syllable(s).
(j) Finally, we shrink-wrap the piece and all others in the sentence or conversational turn, haptically compressing all the syllables but the prominent one--into more natural, native-like pace or speed.

Like I said . . . it is just a piece of cake. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Eliminating the "FATuous" from pronunciation teaching: the Jenny Craig approach

Good behavior change and integration systems all share certain basic features. If you have ever been on a serious diet, you know that most are simply useless. (New research seems to suggest that many actually make matters much worse in the long term.) Once you slip off the formula, you are "cooked." The systems that do "work" are those that effectively integrate lifestyle changes that persist once you are off "life support."

The Jenny Craig method, one of the oldest and most successful, has a well-tested "theory" or model. Its basic principles:
(1) Sensitizing the client to portion size--what amounts feel like in the hands,
(2) Establishing physical exercise regimen,
(3) Training in time (and priorities) management, scheduling in essentials,
(4) Providing (virtually) all food to the client initially--both taking away the "problem" of selecting/thinking about what to eat, and modelling effective nutritional meals and snacks, and
(5) Gradually establishing a new "thin" identity that embodies and integrates 1-3 as "permanently" as possible.

See the nice parallel there to EHIEP work--or any effective language instruction program? Pronunciation teaching advice in methods texts typically assumes that the "sweet, addictive, engaging, enlightening, and mind-blowing" classroom experience is where it is at. Not so. Simply the expectations created without clear strategies for accomplishing them run the gamut from frustrating to "FATuous," to put it mildly. For most--given the limited amount of time now recommended for pronunciation instruction, unless you have trained students in better managing their pronunciation work outside of the classroom, the chances of efficient integration happening are often "slim to none . .. "  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Moving to a different drummer!

EHIEP is essentially a rhythm-driven system. The practice phase of a protocol is typically done either to music or a basic percussion track of some kind. If you have watched any of the linked videos off this blog, especially the various versions of the Warm Up Protocol, you'll enjoy this Youtuber of a "Drums Alive!" workout. It even begins from the same general perspective and includes most of the pedagogical movement patterns in some form. Being myself a big fan of Japanese Taiko drumming--for any number of reasons,

I'd love to find a way to include drums into the EHIEP system. (Clapping on the desk or hammering on the student next to you just doesn't get it, but I have seen new electronic drum systems that would work were they not still so pricey.) The core and upper torso stretching and movement is a perfect fit for optimal body-state work. Have got to figure out a way to work in some of this into the initial warm up! Your pronunciation work getting a bit "hum-drum" lately? 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Haptic (HICP) TESOL 2012 Presentations

Coming toTESOL 2012? If so, we'll be "hapticulating" in at least a couple of talks.

The first is on the 29th in the SPLIS Academic meeting. I'm the closer of five presentations on "integration" of pronunciation work: "Post-Pronunciation pronunciation: Implications of the move toward (a) integration of pronunciation work throughout the curriculum, (b) advances in virtual reality technology and (c) increasing demand that pronunciation presented and  practiced in the classroom be more efficiently integrated into learners' spontaneous speech. "

The other one is on 31st in the morning. Five of us (Burri, Goertzen, Brodie, Teaman and myself) are doing this 45 minute demonstration: Getting Optimal Pronunciation From English Learner Dictionaries and Beyond: This demonstration introduces a set of haptic-based (movement plus touch) procedures for helping learners get pronunciation, meaning, and usage information from English learner dictionaries. Included are six techniques that are also created to be integrated into speaking and listening instruction, appropriate for use with ELLs of most levels and ages. 

Recall the (in)famous epitaph on W.C. Field's tombstone: It could be worse . . . It could be Philadelphia!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GRASPing HICP anchors

The acronym, GRASP (General Responsibility Assignment Software Patterns or Principles), used in software design (See Wikipedia ) represents the range of considerations and processes involved in creating such systems. When applied to developing a HICP system or method, especially the process of haptic anchoring, it helps to further unpack the concept of "grasping" ( 掴む as much of the felt sense of a sound as possible. The nine principles (from a haptic perspective):
  • Information Expert function - Assign purposes or functions to each aspect or technique (providing explanations to learners concerning the underlying mechanisms)
  • Creator function - Create anchors, which involve movement, sound and touch.
  • Controller function- Identify dynamic aspects of pedagogical movement patterns, including position in the visual field, speed, contact type.
  • Low Coupling function - Create clear, visual and haptic distinctions between sounds
  • High Cohesion function - Use mechanisms that maintain focus and attention
  • Polymorphism function - Anchor allophones of sounds (alternatives, such as dialect or word position variations) 
  • Pure Fabrication function -Haptic anchor exceptions to general rules.
  • Indirection function - Use haptic devices that ensure few if any distractions, such as breathing and eye tracking.
  • Protected Variation function - Maintain haptic "distance" between the L1 and L2 or interlanguage forms. 
Grasp GRASP? It doesn't get any better than that!

Grasping Haptic II: Haptic presence

So what does it "feel" like, what is the "felt sense," when one is fully engaged in haptic-integrated pronunciation work? About the best term or metaphor I have encountered is "grasp," in the sense that McLuhan was alluding to (掴む 'tsukamu' in Japanese is even better.) It entails both perception of the object or person and the sensation of near-physical presence or connectedness to it. In this piece by Abeele et al (2007) the discussion of the distinction between social presence and connectedness points to the key notion in haptic anchoring: the former is entirely outward directed; the latter, more  internal, emotional.

In other words, effective haptic anchoring depends upon being able to totally embrace, momentarily, the somatic (body), internal sensations of a sound--completely disregarding "incoming" data and stimulation:  total, undivided attention! The ability to do that should later result in both more efficient monitoring of--and integration of new sounds into--spontaneous speech. And that is easily within the 掴む of any learner.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Grasping haptic: Marshall McLuhan on haptic

 Nice comment from Ken Johnstone, McLuhan Studies at University of Toronto, on McLuhan's read on the meaning of the Greek concept of haptic: "The haptic sense meant much more "mind" since it meant grasping, getting something whole. Grasping means that in some sense I become what I know in its concrete reality and so get it whole. It is this complete act of knowing, that then allows me to analyze my percept intellectually as well as affirm its reality in judgement. And it is this complete act of knowing that realizes my own centre."

I think most of us "Hapticians" would heartily agree with McLuhan's "felt sense" of haptic engagement, that it creates an integrated, concrete experience of not just the sound or word being attended to but also of the mind-body attending to it. In future posts I will explore more of the "sound-acquisition-readiness" that HICP/EHIEP should enhance if done consistently. In fact, it may well be that the greatest benefit of haptic awareness, as McLuhan contends, will be increasing realization or reaffirmation of one's own center and identity in both the L1 and L2. Again,  the "Medium had the message!" 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Keeping pace with PACE (with HICP)

Wow! How about a program that claimed to be able to enhance your child's (Excepted from the PACE website):
  • Auditory Processing: to process sounds. Helps one hear the difference, order, and number of sounds in words faster; basic skill needed to learn to read and spell; helps with speech defects.
  • Auditory Discrimination: to hear differences in sounds such as loudness, pitch, duration, and phoneme.
  • Auditory Segmenting: to break apart words into separate sounds.
  • Auditory Blending: to blend individual sounds to form words.
  • Auditory Analysis: to determine the number, sequence, and which sounds are within a word.
  • Auditory-Visual Association: to be able to link a sound with an image.
  • Comprehension: to understand words and concepts.
  • Divided Attention: to attend to and handle two or more tasks at one time such as taking notes while listening and carrying totals while adding the next column. Required for handling tasks quickly or tasks with complexity.
  • Logic and Reasoning: to reason, plan, and think.
  • Long-Term Memory: to retrieve past information.
  • Math Computations: to do math calculations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
  • Processing Speed: the speed at which the brain processes information. Makes reading faster and less tiring; makes one more aware of his or her surrounding environment; helps with sports such as basketball, football, and soccer and with activities such as driving.
  • Saccadic Fixation: to move the eyes accurately and quickly from one point to another.
  • Selective Attention: to stay on task even when distraction is present.
  • Sensory-Motor Integration: to have the sensory skills work well with the motor skills — such as with eye-hand coordination.
  • Sequential Processing: to process chunks of information that are received one after another.
  • Simultaneous Processing: to process chunks of information that are received all at once.
  • Sustained Attention: to be able to stay on task.
  • Visual Processing: to process and make use of visual images. Helps one create mental pictures faster and more vividly; helps one understand and “see” word math problems and read maps; improves reading comprehension skills.
  • Visual Discrimination: to see differences in size, colour, shape, distance, and orientation of objects.
  • Visual Manipulation: to flip, rotate, move, change colour, etc. of objects and images in one’s mind.
  • Visualization: to create mental images or pictures.
  • Visual Span: helps one see more and wider in a single look. Improves side vision. Enables faster reading and better, faster decisions in sports.
  • Working Memory: to retain information while processing or using it.
This is a long-established local private school. My guess is that they can probably do most of that, too! What is fascinating is that HICP/EHIEP work should explicitly attend to many of those (italicized) as well. Good multiple modality teaching and learning is like that . . . like this!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Imaginary haptic "capital" test

Before you read this post, imagine an ideal, imaginary colleague to team teach pronunciation with. DO THAT! . . . 

According to this research by Harms and Luthan, summarized by Science Daily, your imaginary colleague is probably a pretty good depiction of you as well. I have often observed that highly kinaesthetic pronunciation teacher tend to be more positive and "flexible." (HICPers, by and large, seem to be all that plus a bit more systematic, multidisciplinary--with a tinge of wackiness?) The study does make an interesting point, however. Using a protocol called "projective storytelling" the researchers were able to look at aspects of what they term, psychological capital: " . . . a cluster of personality characteristics associated with the ability to overcome obstacles and the tendency to actively pursue one's goals." Those who imagined positive co-workers tended to, themselves, be more positive and proactive in their professional life as well. 

Try this sometime: Visualize a piece of your next haptic-integrated lesson with an imagined model other than yourself teaching it, one who is even more engaging and charismatic--if that is possible! Project yourself in the lesson as a student, being sure to thoroughly lock in to the felt sense of the anchoring as you mirror the pedagogical movement patterns of the "instructor." It will be a reasonably good measure of your current  "haptic capital." (I have a preliminary rubric for that, in fact.) Imagine that . . .

Friday, January 20, 2012

Haptic anchors and mnemonic "pegs"

There have been several posts aimed at defining a "haptic anchor" as used in HICP. Among other features it must involve use of both hands connecting in the visual field (related to the effect of bilateral stimulation and focus) and coordinated vocalization and body engagement. In this 2010 article, Samuels comes up with a good term to identify other types of anchoring: pronunciation pegs. (The article has some clever examples of such linkages.) "Pegs" are mnemonic devices, some involving movement and touch, such as touching a part of the face to remind learners about a sound or pronunciation feature. She mentions others, such as rubber bands to reinforce the idea of vowel lengthening, etc.

The human brain is wonderfully adaptive in creating and using such pegs. Much of hypnosis is based on that idea, associating a state with some kind of action or image. Pegs are, by nature, throw aways, something to be used in the learning process and quickly discarded. Haptic anchors have much more complex and integrative functions. Not to recommend that you immediately toss your favorites and switch to haptic anchors--or attempt to knock your favorite mnemonic pronunciation pegs down a peg or two--or suggest that you don't have a leg to stand on in using them . . . 

Gola Aperta: Good, good, good, good vibrations . . . and vocal resonance

 Don Jupedo in the character of Harlequin
 jumping down his own throat . . . 
My current project is to develop a new protocol to establish excellent vowel resonance. That is simply critical for effective anchoring. The linked piece by Tracy Watson, which I will quote here, does a very nice job of explaining what it is, the felt sense of it and how it is achieved:

"Gola Aperta [literally: open throat] reflects not only the need for comfort, meaning a healthy, positive amount of muscle antagonism and tension when singing, but also the optimal use of the throat as a resonating body . . . Correct sensation involves an awareness of positive vertical and open space in the throat (like the sensation of breathing in the scent of a flower), and a feeling as though the sound being produced is gently yet energetically filling all of the available space. Depending upon the pitch, one can also feel the intensity of the vibration in different parts of the face. For lower pitches, there is most often a sense of the vibration in the jaw, lips, bridge of the nose, and the lower cheek area. With chest voice present, one may also feel some subglottic and “chest” vibration. As the frequency increases (pitch ascends), there is a sense of awareness of the vibration rising to a higher part of the face, across the bridge of the nose, the cheek area, behind the eyes, between the eyebrows and sometimes in the forehead as well."

Clearly, being able to speak with great resonance impacts more than just pronunciation. For one, it sets up the idea of speaking in a "new voice or identity" one that can be accessed almost as a distinct character or role. For many that construct is extremely helpful in switching to new pronunciation and monitoring ongoing speech. (See several earlier posts on elements of that therapeutic and actor-training strategy.) Once the new protocol is ready I'll post a video so you can try it out with your students. In the meantime, in preparation, get a first rate head and neck massage and practise seeing how much lavender essential oil fragrance you can draw in in one breath . . . 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good haptic anchoring; good intentions

Heard the old saw about the 10 most depressing words in the English language? (I'm from the government and I'm here to help you . . . ) Well, it turns out, according to research by Gray of the Maryland Mind Perception and Morality Lab (summarized by Science Daily) that perceived good intentions DO reduce pain, increase pleasure, and make things taste better! Wow! This is big. Who'd have thought?

Although I generally do not work much with taste--other than occasionally using those tape-like breath sweeteners that dissolve in the mouth with a "Hyper Type-A" who has not the slightest brain-body connection--we do generally manage pain and pleasure well in HICP/EHIEP work. Problem is it is easy to get too inductive and just let the exercises convince and persuade. On this one the cognitive linguists and phonologists are dead on--except in practice they appear to give only "lip service" to affect, relying instead on the "joy" of insight and understanding as the central motivational driver before getting down to changing anything.

The bottom line: Be nice; show them your really care. After all, the road to good anchoring and intelligibility is apparently paved with good intentions!

Haptic Symposium Demonstration Proposal accepted!

Here is the summary:

 "Through video and real-time performance, we demonstrate a haptic system designed for teaching the pronunciation of English. The version does not involve a virtual reality interface, but the application of this haptic-integrated pedagogical system in a Wii-like system with speech recognition appears achievable with current technology. Using hand-to-hand and hand-to-body haptic engagement in the visual field, somewhat analogous to sign language, sounds and sound processes are “haptically” anchored for enhanced encoding efficiency and recall. One of the striking advantages of such a haptic approach is that it has been shown to better facilitate integration of new sounds into the leaner’s spontaneous speech. The haptic system serves as an accessible channel outside “normal” auditory and visual modalities, for monitoring and adjusting pronunciation accuracy. This body-based haptic framework also holds promise for enhancement of other forms of video/user interface beyond language instruction. The method has been classroom tested with consistent, positive results."

Our presentation will be March 4th, 5th or 6th in Vancouver. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grasping new pronunciation

In the remarkable study by Symes of Plymouth University and colleagues reported in Science Daily, it was demonstrated that " . . . using a grabbing action with our hands can help our processing of visual information." In essence, by performing that hand movement, in preparation for touching a fruit of various sizes, features of a picture were more quickly recognized--assuming that the hand position reflected the shape of the object to be viewed.

The EHIEP vowel protocol uses a set of analogous gestures that simulate the felt sense, including duration of the vowel to be anchored (spoken as the hands touch). As one hand approaches the other it assumes a different configuration, depending on the type of vowel to be articulated. The visual image that is associated with the anchor may be written, appearing in the visual field, or visualized--as a dictionary entry or phonetic transcription of a word.

Whether or not the same "grabbing" principle applies to auditory or somatic images is not mentioned in the research report, but from what we know of the relation between haptic, auditory and visual, one would assume that the effect would be even more "pronounced" with auditory input. Regardless, it points to but another possible explanation for the "gripping" nature of EHIEP!

Getting your colleagues or students "in touch"

Following up on the last post, which focused on getting students to buy in to haptic work, this piece from Lee and Sternthal at Northwestern University makes a similar point but from a different perspective. One conclusion of that research is that the key is matching goals to level of abstraction. For example, to persuade a colleague to try EHIEP, you'd make points like these:

  • It covers all the basic English sounds and processes.
  • It is appropriate for all learners, even in classes of mixed ability.
  • It focuses on intelligibility, not absolute accuracy.
  • EHIEP focuses primarily on spoken, conversational pronunciation and style. 
  • The EHIEP system, after about two months, sets up learners with a set of strategies for learning the L2, especially getting new vocabulary and working with it to anchor it firmly, and more accurate immediate recall of what was just heard in conversation.
  • The EHIEP system is best taught by both instructor and class following along with the videos for the first 8 sessions, about 2 months. After that instructor and learners use the techniques in all classes where oral production is involved.
  • And, should all else fail: It is based on Acton (1984) and about 30 years of his research and practice in kinaesthetic learning of L2 pronunciation. 
The application of "haptic" to the system does several things:
  • It captures the complete attention of the learner, relying on whole body and whole brain procedures well established in several fields.
  • Haptic techniques have been shown in many fields to enhance both encoding new skills and later recall of what was learned.
  • Haptic techniques make kinaesthetic learning much more systematic and effective, by ensuring that the movements are performed in the appropriate place and manner consistently. 
  • Haptic self monitoring allows learner to attend to their speech without too much distraction or concern about errors and pre-planning in real communication. 
  • Haptic-based correction of mistakes is both effective and affectively "comfortable."
  • Haptic anchoring (touching hands on stressed syllables) has been shown to be highly efficient in both initial learning of sounds and correction of fossilized errors. 
For students, many of whom may have only limited comprehension skills, the approach would be more like this:
  • EHIEP will help you learn and remember vocabulary and pronunciation better.
  • All you have to do is follow the instructions.
  • It is a good way for the instructor to correct your errors. 
  • It is fun, relaxing and easy to do.
  • After each class video lesson, you must practice three times a week, in the morning for about 30 minutes before  you come to school. (It is better to practice every other day, not every day.)
  • It is based in part on research on touch and movement in computer games and robotics--very much like Wii and iPhone!
And if those points don't work, the default position: Let your body decide. Experience it for a few lessons and then make up your mind. Almost never fails . . . 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Moved to mirror: pre-HICP-suasion

Getting some learners (and instructors) to engage in kinaesthetic and haptic classroom exercises (mirroring the PMP of the instructor or video model) can be a challenge. Over the years I have gotten better at introducing the systematic use of pedagogical movement patterns to those new to the idea--but occasionally I encounter serious resistance from  a student or conference workshop participant.

2010 Research by Ondobaka of Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands,  de Lange, Wiemers, and Bekkering of Radboud and Newman-Norlund of the University of South Carolina, summarized by Science Daily highlights why that may happen: "people only feel the urge to mimic each other when they have the same goal." It is not enough to just try and convince them to relax and be receptive to what is ahead when mirroring is involved, they must have bought into a more focused, shared objective or rationale for what it will accomplish.

That came as quite a revelation to me at one point. I had been over-relying on the physical experience, without much explicit justification, to persuade. Too often that did not work sufficiently for all the audience to actively participate in the haptic exercises for the duration of the session. In a later post I will post a script and accompanying video piece that embodies all the key arguments for HICP work up front, for use in the classroom. Not persuaded yet? It will only take a "mirror," moving explanation, I'm sure.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Train the brain (or the body) first?

Lessac's dictum, Train the body first!, is about as close to a HICP battle cry as it gets. The popular, game-based brain training company, Lumosity, provides a wide range of "disembodied" computer-based games and training programs that aim at strengthening five areas: memory, attention, speed, flexibility and problem solving. For some learners, especially in academic and business settings, the games appear to be quite effective in doing what they claim. (I have only tried a few introductory games, read the testimonials, studied the website and research studies supporting their "products.") Fair to say, as they claim, that to evaluate the real efficacy of the games, one needs to practice them regularly, probably for at least a month's time.

That aside, I found the list of key concepts (linked above) to be a fascinating "rubric" for evaluating the general cognitive impact or secondary goals of any system, such as EHIEP. In other words, in addition to teaching the pronunciation of the language, what conditions are set up to facilitate that and what other capacities are naturally enhanced by practicing and learning with that system? That list includes: adaptivity, cognitive reserve [encouraging resilience], completeness, engagement, fluid intelligence [thinking outside the box], neuroplasticity [ability to develop new neural pathways, regardless of age],  novelty, processing speed, targeting and [availability of] working memory for the tasks. HICP instruction probably enhances the ones in italics. I intend to review the inventory of Lumosity games and see which might be especially good for enhancing HICP work. Will report back later. If you are game . . . join me!

The "hips" in HICP

Clip art: Clker
For most of the EHIEP protocols or techniques, the upper body movements, when done accurately with muscles warmed up and flexible, naturally draw the lower body, especially the hips,  in as well. When we say full body and brain engagement--we mean it! Ideally the movement of the hips should be in the form of a very gentle "hip thrust" forward and back on focused elements in the words or phrases being practiced. To someone watching it should not be noticeable or seen as unusual. The combination of the head nodding and diaphragm pushing the air up and out of the lungs combine to create a sympathetic movement in the hips and glutes.

 This Youtube video does a great job of illustrating several versions of an exercise to strengthen and "liberate" the hips. I often use some form of hip thrust exercise to help the overly fossilized get with the program.  If you find pronunciation work something of a pain in that region, yourself--or should you have chronic lower back problems--get down and loosen up with us!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

From rumination to pronunciation

Clip art: Clker
As previous blogposts have illustrated, the process or mental state required in changing behavior in one area of experience is often quite like or analogous to another. When I see these "How to" pieces, I am always most interested in the order in which the writer introduces the principles, especially to what extent they line up with the general HICP/EHIEP model. Here is one on overcoming excessive rumination summarized by Amy Macklin.

As you review the steps, consider the parallel to effective haptic-integrated pronunciation change:
(1) If you can, take action.
(2) Challenge your beliefs.
(3) Redirect your attention.
(4) Resist the urge to talk it out.
(5) Observe "mindfulness."
(6) Be patient.

That could almost serve as a basic reminder before any HICP/EHIEP work. With the exception of 2 and 6, those have been addressed repeatedly. 2 is, of course, almost a given with this work; 6 is possible, in part because of 1-5. Likewise, 4 is easier because of 1, 3 and 5, all three being essentially body-based acts that help one manage the pre-frontal, highly cognitive tasks represented in 2, 4 and 6. In other words, being a bit "odd" in this work is the best way to get even . . . 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

HELPS for fluency and comprehension: Oral reading rides again!

HICP/EHIEP is based on extensive fluent (haptically-anchored) oral reading both in class and as homework. In general, in reading education the value of oral reading had been played down for a number of reasons, among them a focus on the false dichotomy between language comprehension and language production--and the priority of the former. HELPS appears to bring that process back into perspective for beginning readers at least. On the face of it, the application to pronunciation work is striking.

The key claim is that developing oral reading fluency first can greatly enhance reading comprehension. Granted, that is part of an entire reading system that includes all the usual components, but the relative balance and ordering of priorities is intriguing. Notice the basic steps in the process the instructor uses (You'll have to watch both videos 1 and 2.) Then try this "simple" system sometime, sticking to the same dozen steps or so, with one of your students (with an appropriate text!)  In many respects it is not all that different from that used in EHIEP when working with an extended, practice conversational text. You will almost certainly find that watching this video "helps!" (Note: The link to the youtube video is in the title of the post, not off the HELPS logo.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Aha! Insight into (at least) why we don't try to learn at times

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One of the real achievements of recent research in cognitive psychology has been to demonstrate the importance of both "Eureka! moments" and systematic forgetting of moments which are not. What the research by (summarized by from Science Daily) contributes is evidence that children come to understand new words not so much gradually by repeated exposure as they do by insightful events. The precise meaning may be adjusted or expanded by later events and attempts at usage but the basic meaning, once caught in a clear, unambiguous context is well-established.

That is a much closer parallel to how adults learn than once thought and accords very closely with one of the central claims of cognitive phonology, that such insights into the structure of the sound system have great potential payoff. Just as the demand for "Eureka!-like" explanations holds, in our work so does the corresponding requirement for "sticky haptic" and emotionally engaging anchoring in the process of setting up integration of new sounds into spontaneous speech.

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In HICP/EHIEP it is critical in the practicing of target sounds that there be as little clutter and "body-less" repetition and drill as possible. However, given this research, it may be that doing a few random activities and meaningless drill isn't all that ultimately distracting or counterproductive anyway. A waste of time, perhaps, but the good news is that the brain appears to be wonderfully designed to ignore what it doesn't need now or yet--and most of the rest of the lesson as well for that matter, just waiting on your next "Aha!" Having a class that loves you and the lesson, has learned to anticipate your little gems and is amazingly patient goes only so far, however. Anchor away, eh!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gee! Video games and getting a feel for how we will learn

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Here is a great article about the work of James Gee and a 20-minute PBS video of him talking about the kind of learning that video gaming may offer for education. The future of pronunciation instruction lies is a similar "embodiment" in video game-like virtual reality. Gee's musings should be required viewing for anyone in the field today who plans on sticking around much longer! Note, especially, how he focuses on being able to "grab" the learner and keep him or her in the game. Haptics is seen by many as central to the future of that kind of gaming.

Pronunciation work, especially, can be very difficult to design from that perspective in the classroom, let alone online. Not that HICP/EHIEP has all the answers either but it "moves" in that direction and should focus more on the part of the process where engagement is key to integration. It is easy to imagine a game of international intrigue where pronunciation or intelligibility on key phrases, for example, would be required to advance in the game. Gee! (To quote Sherlock Holmes) The game is afoot!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Grow Staged (Haptic-integrated) Self-directed (language) learners

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Here is a Slideshare presentation of Grow's (1991) Staged Self-Directed Learner model. The four learner stages (dependency, interested, involved and self-directed) are matched with instructor stages (authority or coach, motivator or guide, facilitator, consultant or delegator). The EHIEP system focuses especially on the first two stages in order to enable the latter two, which are more a function of the complete language study and experience, not just pronunciation, per se. For any number of reasons, the nine basic modules of EHIEP are tightly controlled and monitored. At the conclusion of that program, at Grow's Stage Three, the learner should be well trained with a set of learning and anchoring strategies that are appropriate for both individual and classroom work.

As noted in a couple of earlier blogposts, one of the "shibboleths" or critical benchmarks of effective HICP work is what we call for lack of a better term, full-body listening. Learners consistently report that they are much better at being able to listen and "play back" what they hear, not just the words but the expressiveness involved--through their bodies. Some say it is as if the recording goes on in the chest as well as the ears. Good (haptically-integrated) pronunciation and listening is GROW'n--not just bored into being that way!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Facilitating insight into problem solving (and pronunciation) with directed movement

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Here is a report on a "moving" research study by Thomas and Lleros (2009) that demonstrates the potential impact of using a gesture in instruction: "Consistent with embodied theories of cognition, these findings show that actions influence thought and, furthermore, that we can implicitly guide people toward insight by directing their actions." In this case, the movement used, a focused swinging of the arms in a specific, controlled pattern (which very indirectly suggested a possible solution to a complex conceptual, thought problem) strongly promoted subjects' solving that problem.

That technique is strikingly similar to the use in EHIEP of about 12 pedagogical movement patterns (PMPs) to teach intonation contours in English. (Basically, the left hand traces a part of each contour across the visual field, including at some point touching the right hand on a stressed element of the word or phrase.) The indirect relationship between the shape of the PMP and the changes in pitch, pace and volume of the voice is quite analogous to that employed by that study where subjects were asked to figure out how to tie two strings together using a set of objects on the table in front of them--and then given short regular breaks where they were led in briefly exercising in a way consistent with a key move required to solve the problem (without being told the purpose of the exercise, other than to study the effect of exercise on problem solving.)

An important principle of HICP work is that PMPs should be to the extent possible both haptic (involving movement and touch) and isomorphic (being of similar form to) a gesture that could reasonably be used in the language for some function. Waving arms across the visual field in front of students to illustrate intonation patterns is a common technique used by many pronunciation instructors--for an empirically validated, good reason it now turns out. Insightful, to say the least!

Guidelines for being good "Outer Circle" English speakers (and doing HICP with them!)

Here is a handout from a 2009 TESOL-France Plenary by Ur In it is a very interesting set of guidelines for Outer Circle English users which raises a number of issues for HICP/EHIEP work. It is, I think, in some sense, rather "cutting edge" (but also, possibly rather "outer edge" as well!) The bracketed comments are mine. Here they are in abbreviated form:
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" . . . Aim to
[1]  . . . be 'English-knowing bilinguals,' [rather than true balanced dual-language "native speakers"]
[2] . . . learn internationally acceptable English rather than a particular native variety [She probably means something approximating what is now termed, English as a lingua franca.]
[3] . . . try not to think in English . . . [God forbid you should actually think like an Englishman or American!]
[4] . . . accept that we are native speakers of our own language, and use it, where appropriate, to help us learn English better (compare, translate etc.)" [I like that one, where appropriate, of course.]

I could do a blog post on any of those but one overriding issue emerges. Given that framework, what conceivable model (verbal and nonverbal) would be acceptable for use in the classroom? The video-based program of EHIEP, which teaches everything through haptic video, uses a great looking model (yours truly!) to train learners and instructors in how to learn and anchor (and provide corrective feedback in class for) vowels, stress, rhythm and intonation.

The pedagogical movement patterns (PMP) have been developed to be as "internationally acceptable," as humanly and critically pedagogical as  possible--but the basic "felt sense" of the sounds presented and facial expression on the video are still undeniably "Inner Circle-ish." Apparently, however,  as long as learners consistently try to not think in Englishwe should be ok.  Now that I think of it, that may be the case with the system already, in fact. (Only in the Don't think! Just do it! sense, of course!) I'll have to think about that, too,  and get back to you . . . 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Inner Circle membership pronunciation test

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For the out of touch . . .

Answer key.

Haptic anchoring and anchor redux: better felt and not seen for optimal conflux

Research by Alecuyer on what is known as "pseudo-haptic feedback" dramatically demonstrates the potential dominance of visual modality over haptic. When provided with contradictory feedback, such as seeing a distorted image of what we are touching, the brain will favor the visual image, especially in terms of determining the size or shape of the object in view. (On questions of texture or other material properties the balance may swing in the other direction.)

HICP/EHIEP "haptic integration" attempts to consistently shift perception toward "material properties" of a sound, away from its orthographic image, which, in turn, may be associated with inaccurate or underdeveloped pronunciation.  So, attention to the conflux of the visual shape of the word and its auditory properties must be secondary--as noted in several other posts based on other disciplines, e.g. Lessac. What that should accomplish is both more efficient encoding and anchoring of new sounds but also more effective "haptic monitoring" during spontaneous speech.

One of the most common reports from learners is the "return" of the clear, momentary felt sense of a sound being worked on either as it is pronounced more accurately or when it is still being used inaccurately, what we call "anchor redux." Those events, which are established and anticipated in the mind of the learner through several aspects of the system (what is termed, future pacing, in hypnotic work) are one of the basic benchmarks of HICP. Should you not see my point at this point . . . I'm sure you'll get a feel for it later . . . 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A rhinoceros in jello: the pronunciation warm up as venue for assessment of learner ability and progress

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a post from a "Poemrepairworkshop" blog which makes a point worth exploring briefly: the idea that in the process of leading a pronunciation warm up you can (literally) evaluate the readiness of individual learners for the work ahead. (The post ends with a recommendation to warm up as a rhino in jelly--which I like very much--which suggests to me something important about where the field is right now as well!)

I have assumed that the warm up is a very rich source of data for years, myself, but have never systematically developed a protocol to use it from that perspective. Just observing the range of body mirroring and openness to stretching the voice and personality in the opening minutes of a class is often a highly reliable indicator of what is to come or possible that day for all involved--myself included.  The current 4-minute EHIEP warm up could certainly be used for that purpose. I'll work on that a bit and report back. In the meantime .  .  .  just watch how you warm up!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Essential English Pronunciation--Is that all there is to love?

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Pronunciation work should be exceedingly rewarding--and often downright fun--for both learner and instructor. If not, it probably is just not going far enough. There is general agreement in the field today on what elements of English pronunciation are essential for developing intelligibility. For example, here is the Jenkins model of essential Global English. Here is a relatively concise list for Vietnamese learners and an hour video of Gilbert's version @New School (also linked in a previous post on a different topic) that includes more than the essentials--and some I consider decidedly nonessential--but worth watching.

Where there is some consensus in how to
(1) prioritize those various "bits and processes,"
(2) which techniques are most effective in specific learning contexts,
there is far less (or even any discussion) as to how to 
(3) anchor and 
(4) integrate those elements into spontaneous speaking--along with creating a 
(5) consistent routine and 
(6) "phonological acquisition readiness."

HICP is really more about the last four than the first two. In principle, any theoretically grounded schema today (such as that of Jenkins, Gilbert or Tran) can be used in identifying the critical elements for a specific learner population. (See earlier posts on the "end" of pronunciation methodology!) Likewise, once the foundation is established, the course of further instruction is quite open. EHIEP protocols (12  basic teaching techniques) should be applicable in virtually all classroom or personal development settings. Hence the "haptic-integrated" in EHIEP and the "clinical" in HICP, beginning where most contemporary methodology leaves off or (typically) consigns to the learner how to figure out and manage. To paraphrase Buzz Lightyear: To ESSENTIAL AND BEYOND!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Haptic sine machina (HICP)

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How about a 2005 conference announcement with a succinct definition of "haptic video" that includes the concept of machine controllers. As was pointed out to me recently, that is the "industry standard," that haptic, as currently used in most fields assumes proactive transmission of movement and force through a mechanical interface of some kind.

HICP/EHIEP, of course, does not yet involve such a "machine." The training program firmly establishes the felt sense or feel of the pedagogical movements; the regular warm up reestablishes that awareness before each session. That felt sense includes (as noted in earlier posts) four types of resonance, pressure (between hands), four distinct types of skin contact (depending on what part of the left hand impacts where on the right hand or upper body), relative speed, precise 3-dimensional positioning in the visual field. Given that degree of "haptic" engagement, when a sound pattern is later signalled by the instructor the effect of the visual model should be nearly as "controlling" for physically realized as being connected to a mechanical arm or controller.

But perhaps we do need a more precise term here, at least for the name of the blog. How about "Haptic-integrated Clinical Pronunciation (Haptic sine machina)". In the classical sense, of course, the field of Haptics is the true "deus ex machina"in Greek tragedy where a mechanical crane was used to lower actors on to the stage to effect a solution "from the gods," something far outside the normal (literally, god from the machine). HICP, on the other hand, still relies just on the well-conditioned human body to effect its "miraculous" endings.