Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pronunciation "corps" competence!

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The problem with graduate students, when one enjoys an occasion good pun or double entendre, is that they can almost at any moment do the same, often even "one-up-man-shipping" you! The other day I was challenged to define the "corps competence" of HICP work (the illusion being to the basic meaning of 'corps' being 'body'.) Although this is still a work in progress, as usual, I found a potentially good analogy: core exercise frameworks in physical training. Linked is the Sports Medicine About website, which also links to every kind of core strengthening exercise imaginable, lists the three main "benefits" of core training: (a) relieves back pain, (b) improves athletic performance, and (c) improves posture. Translating that to our work, those categories read as something like: (a) fluidity (fluency), (b) integrated, energetic speaking performance, and (c) body awareness and directed movement. One of the key concepts in core training, whether in athletics or pronunciation work, is integrated functionality, that is understanding the system as a whole and attending to key components in a systematic and ordered way. (To get a set of abs like those pictured to the right requires a great deal more that just crunches and holding your breath!) The "problem" for us, of course, is that on the one hand, integrating pronunciation throughout the curriculum is a very "deconstructive" act, distributing procedures and objectives almost at random. On the other hand, as we have learned in haptic-integrated work, a certain amount of very systematic, skill and body-based training--separate from regular class, integrated skills activities (probably about 8 hours in total, spread out over the course of around 8 weeks)--is essential to provide an optimal set of "integrate-able" pronunciation techniques for instructor and students to use in class. The parallel to physical training is apt (or "ab-t"!): efficient, integrated pronunciation teaching requires genuine "corp-oration," getting and keeping both corps and core skills in shape . . . 

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