Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chain drill (and Kinetic Chain) in pronunciation teaching

Clip art:Clker
If you were trained to do "chain drills" in teaching, clap your hands . . . or some other random haptic anchor. I have used that question at conferences. It generally elicits a generational response--based on where you were or if you were breathing yet-- about 50 years ago in 1966 when Cornfield's book was published. Chain drill was a basic tool of structuralist teaching. (And it is still good, especially in pronunciation work!) The concept of linking together questions and answers around the class, particularly when some aspect of the core question is haptically anchored (for example, assigning some kind of pedagogical movement pattern to the stressed word in the sentence or phrase)--when done right--is wonderfully effective in quickly anchoring the target sound or structure to basic conversational usage. It connects the language "chunk" with the body and emotions in a social network where the learner's performance is openly in public and received non-judgementally. The ultimate anchor for integrating usage. An analogous term 'kinetic chain' is used in sports and rehabilitation work, where the observable movement or pain in some body part must be understood as functionally connected to the operation of the entire body, bones, muscles, tendons--even the brain. In other words, foot disfunction can be the cause of next pain, etc. Conversely, "fixing" any apparently local problem should be approached as a whole-body project. In pronunciation work, especially today with the gradual "dis-integration" of attention to accuracy in the field, it is far too easy to only do "lip service" to that notion. 

1 comment:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

Thanks for the reference to Cornfield's book - it
s good to have structuralist resources at one's fingertips! I wonder if a pronunciation chain drill could be done using fingertips touching a hard surface and coordinating that with the lips and tongue (lip service). Just a thought, since when you play piano and sing, there are so many nerve endings in your fingertips that it actually makes a difference when you play and sing, rather than just sing. You could drum fingers on the table as you do pronunciation chain drills...

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