Thursday, April 19, 2012

A touch of audible mutter: keeping pronunciation to yourself

Clip Art: Clker
My gosh . . . apparent proof that students occasionally talking quietly to themselves in class rather than listening to you or participating in the lesson may actually be a good idea, rather than a sign that you have been "metacognating" them too much--or not quite enough. In the study, basically, saying a word out loud repeatedly that represented something that subjects were looking for helped them find it. Just imagine had they tossed on a haptic anchor as well! Or tried the task with only the anchor but not the vocalization. The same process should work for retrieving meaning, pronunciation or usage information as well. Haptic research would suggest that the haptic-only condition might even be stronger than the simple vocalization in such an "exploration" phase of learning. Earlier posts have examined the case for resonant practicing of pronunciation targets out loud and vigorous, systematic vocalization of homework. This seems to support that practice, even without the enthusiasm and sensuous, somatic anchoring. So next time students can't remember the way a word is pronounced, what it means, its collocation or how to use it, just instruct them audibly mutter their best approximation out loud two or three times under their breath, accompanied by its pedagogical movement pattern, and see what happens. Worse case, those around them will think that they are losing it; best case, they'll find it. 

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