Thursday, April 19, 2012

A touch of speech-synchronized gesture just for good measure--and measuring!

Speech-synchronized gesture has been studied extensively--although subsequent research has questioned whether, in fact, the gestural "chicken" does not in fact come before the words, or at the very least they are generated simultaneously by the brain or are proceded by still "deeper" origins. Linked above is a blog post from December 2011 where I described something of the process by which I had arrived at haptic-integrated pronunciation work after a couple of decades of basically "kinaesthetic" exploration and classroom practice. To that comment, I'd now add this:

  • My early work with speech synchronized gesture resulted in a series of "gesture-synchronized speech" techniques, with the focus on using gesture to drive and anchor language, such as the use of upper torso nods, baton strokes, and various arm and hand movements across the visual field.
  • As many have discovered, although the effectiveness of movement-based techniques may be striking at times, it is exceedingly difficult to document or validate and reproduce consistently.
  • When, in 2005, I was introduced to a psychotherapeutic system, Observed Experiential Integration, that exploited eye tracking across the visual field, for a time it looked like that approach might serve to make the impact of gesture-synchronized speech stronger and consistent. To some extent that turned out to be the case but the training involved by instructor/therapists and potential interpersonal risks involved was  excessive. 
  • In OEI, however, and in American Sign Language to some extent, I discovered a great deal of haptic anchoring, movement terminating in self-touch, usually on the upper body or limbs. From there, researching the fundamentals and neurophysiology of touch and movement to the application of haptic techniques and haptics (machine interfaces) in several fields would gradually lead to where we are today: haptic-integrated, clinical pronunciation. 
  • Clip art: Clker
  • Haptic-integration seems to both solve the problem of systematic pedagogical use of movement and provide an engaging and potent anchoring capability to pronunciation work. Once pedagogical movement patterns become regularized, their impact and potential to enhance memory and recall becomes extraordinary, measurable . . . and empirically verifiable.

It has been a moving journey thus far--but is only the beginning. Keep in touch.


Angelina Van Dyke said...

The link reviewing Damasio's work in neuroscience is helpful. Emotional disregulation is something most international students struggle with, and this scientific explanation of what goes on the brain in terms of somatic marking while it's balancing the external world with the internal world is essential for understanding language identity and pronunciation work. If anything it raises my sensitivity as a teacher, but also the question of how much of the psychologist hat we should wear!

Angelina Van Dyke said...

Leaving a book link on Kindle: "God, Theology & Cognitive Modules" available as a FREE download from April 18 to April 20.

Bill Acton said...

I have used that book as a base of operation for some time now, too. As you say, once you have a better sense of how emotion interacts with cognition and identity--which Damasio does exceedingly well--your ability to use somatic marking (which is close to the anchoring concept in EHIEP, is enhanced markedly!

Angelina Van Dyke said...

Wow, there's lots to learn! The book I mentioned posits a universal theory of the subconcious by using a mental symmetry model. It's worth a read.

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