Saturday, February 11, 2012

Embodied language ego: the felt sense of speaking English

Since doing research with Alexander Guiora while in graduate school, the idea of "language ego" has been a very useful tool for me in pronunciation work, especially dealing with fossilized pronunciation. (The book chapter above, reporting the results of the well known "alcohol study,"  provides a good characterization of Guiora's articulation of the concept.) Although the role of the body and body movement in instruction has always been prominent in my work, it has been only in the last decade, with my introduction to haptic and haptics research, that the two concepts, language ego and embodiment, have begun to converge. Some of that almost certainly is the result of my decade or so in Asia and longstanding interest in yoga and related frameworks. Jukubczak's 2006 paper contains an elegant description of the "embodied ego," from an East/West perspective. The term I have been using recently, "embodied language ego" (ELE), nicely highlights a key conceptual and pedagogical feature of HICP: focusing almost exclusively on language first (with accompanying haptic anchoring), rather than extensive, early conscious attention to and discussion of L2 identity. Learners get the idea of developing a more confident, intelligible ELE: the felt sense of speaking the language. It is a relatively concrete problem for them, one that can be better articulated in terms of goals and recognized as benchmarks are achieved. Good to be back to working actively with this enhanced notion of language ego. Re-ELE!

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