Monday, April 23, 2012

Expressiveness in pronunciation instruction: an anchor by any other name would feel so sweet?

clipart: Clker
With apologies to Shakespeare, will quickly consider the topic of a recent discussion as to the efficacy (or necessity) of haptic anchors and haptic-integrated methodology in pronunciation instruction. The question was: Doesn't expressiveness, like in dramatic reading, not accomplish much the same thing? The linked 2003 dissertation explored the impact of expressiveness on literacy development and seems to confirm that--at least for middle school native speakers of English--that seems to be the case. Expressive reading and the attendant interpretative process leading up to the "performance" did appear to carry with it a number of positive linkages to identity and reading competence, including vocabulary and confidence, etc. If that is the  case, then why not use drama as the focus of pronunciation instruction. That is certainly a possibility, one that has been explored extensively by many, such as Gary Carkin. The problem, of course, is that the nonnative probably does not come to the process with the culturally situated emotional and expressive experiences to access and link to the text at hand. In addition, the language limitations, themselves, constrain what can be talked and emoted about within the learner's current stage of interlanguage development. In other words, linking a known word to dramatic expressiveness is one thing; learning (that is anchoring) a new term in the context of a drama and delivering it with appropriate expressiveness, is another. Some learners are amazingly adept at that: most probably aren't, given the relatively short amount of time that the average instructor can devote to an expressive project such as a mini-drama or dramatic readings. Haptic integration attempts to link some level of somatic awareness of body resonance in appropriate articulation with the word. In the process some degree of expressiveness, given the usage context may come along as well--but that should be moderated somewhat to focus on the core meaning and pronunciation of the word, not too much of the specific expressive value in that conversation or narrative. (That that context for the word and its meaning is then linked is, of course, a very good thing in itself.) So, should pronunciation work be expressive? Yes! Especially since in EHIEP methodology you should have plenty of "time on your hands!" 

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