Friday, February 3, 2012

Perfect form in HICP work

Near-perfect form is essential in early HICP work only in overall body posture, stance and breathing--and pedagogical movement patterns--not in absoute accuracy of the pronunciation of L2 sounds being produced by the learner. In other words, on the physical side, the approach is "form-focused instruction," whereas in terms of phonetic accuracy, it is more "focus on form" based. (See the nice linked 10-point list from RealAge fitness on achieving better form in exercising. I am going to create a slightly adapted version in rubric format for HICP work, in fact.)

It is a crucial distinction, one that is now well-established in the field in terms of how we direct learner attention to form in the process. In grammar work, for example, the difference would be starting off a class with a grammar explanation and drill and the practicing it, as opposed to creating tasks, such as story telling, where grammatical constructions naturally come up that need to be attended to and then giving students a brief, concise mini-lesson, sufficient to manage the problem at hand.

The same applies to pronunciation instruction, in general, of course, but the problem is always being able to adequately "anchor" the new structure or strategy in the mind (and body) of the learner. The research seems to suggest that FonF, when done well in clearly defined contexts should result in better uptake and integration into spontaneous speech. From that perspective, HICP is perfect . . . 

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