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 . .. "  

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