Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hunting for quail and qualia in pronunciation teaching

Clipart: Clker
I cannot resist a good analogy (or even a bad one, unfortunately!). My undergraduate degree in philosophy continues to "dog" me. Here is another. Hunting for quail and hunting for "qualia." If you have never experienced a quail hunt, just imagine a fabulous pronunciation class or "teachable pronunciation moment" where problems which must be dealt with immediately keep popping up all around you--and all 20 of your students are demanding your attention at the same time . . .  BUT FIRST, "qualia." That is a philosophical term, which focuses on what an experience feels like, its "raw feel"-- which corresponds in many ways to the term "felt sense" that we use in our work. If you can quickly and efficiently anchor the felt sense of a sound/word, the chances of integrating that change into spontaneous speech increase exponentially. The problem, for both quail and qualia hunting is context and system. Here are 10 tips from that apply e-QUAL-ly to both projects:
1. Look for quail in open land. (Make sure you have the learner's complete, whole-body attention.)
2. Use a shotgun when quail hunting. (You don't need extreme accuracy, just intelligibility.)
3. Bring a dog on your hunt. (The attention of the learner should be on the protocols, not on you as instructor.)
4. Never shoot a low flying quail. (Make sure that the target sound is clearly in focus before attempting to anchor it.)
5. Hunt for Quail in late season. (Implement integration work with the protocols after they have been introduced and practiced outside of the class.)
6. Stay as quiet as you can be. (The qualia should be as much an internal experience for the learner as possible, not a social event. The same applies for the instructor's role.)
7. Walk into the wind. (Always attempt to leave learners with the essentials of the protocols, not with too many random associations of place and occasion clinging to the anchored word or phrase.)
8. Know their routines. (Of both the protocols and the quality and quantity of homework assignments)
9. Look for fresh tracks. (Be always ready to recognize and point out learner progress on protocol form. Change in pronunciation of problematic sounds generally follows practice using the protocol.)
10. Be familiar with the hunting area before you hunt. (All aspects of the classroom milieu contribute to the effectiveness of noticing and anchoring sound to felt sense to qualia. Play some background music maybe or arrange the chairs before class . . . ) With those guidelines in mind, you should be more than QUALIAfied . . . 

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