Wednesday, January 18, 2012

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 . . . 

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