Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bad pronunciation teaching? What do you expect?

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Can pronunciation instruction be too much fun? Can the expectations we set up early on work against us? Can drama and poetry work to improve accuracy be counterproductive? Maybe. (Note that I said accuracy there, not fluency.) The effect shows up in this study and others in various fields which have been linked here earlier: using "extreme"emotion to anchor change is a mixed bag; what is retained and the accuracy of it can go either way. If you have been around toddlers, golden retrievers or graduate students for long, you know the problem. The point of the correction may or may not be really understood or carried away--the anchor can be attached to almost anything in the experiential and visual field at the moment. It is, if nothing else, a matter of efficiency. In the linked Science Digest study by Murray at the Alberta School of Business, consumers with high expectations were, not surprisingly, more elated and more disappointed, depending on the result. The "other"group, the "conservatives," demonstrated a much narrower range of response. What is the potential "take away" from that? Of course, Know thy students!, and . . .  if you really do have your act together and have a very systematic approach to accuracy, be a cheer leader; if not, don't. 

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