Friday, May 25, 2012

To dictionary or not to dictionary . . . that is the question?

In earlier posts I have looked at dictionary use in pronunciation instruction, including the EHIEP "haptdictpro" procedure that we have presented at several conferences. Dictionary training in some form is often noted in action research reports, almost never including detail as to how it was done, for example, in this 2007 doctoral dissertation that outlines a three-week training program that appears to have begun with it. (There is a nice summary/comparison of other-than-kinaesthetic pronunciation teaching strategies in Appendix B that is worth a look at, however!) This morning I was nearly thunderstruck by what "The Bard" had to say about the importance of haptic work: (HAMLET):

"To be, or not to be . . . 
          [accessing pronunciation from a dictionary]
Clip art: Clker
That is the question:
          [You gotta get it someplace!]
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
           [relying mostly on cognitive strategies and "pointing-outs"]
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
           [unacceptable pronunciation as judged by inhospitable speakers of the L2]
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles . . . 
          [moving them across the visual "sea" or field with haptic anchoring on prominent bits]

Clip art: Clker

I have been unable to find any accessible research on the emerging use and efficacy of online sound sources which provide immediate auditory models and brief meanings and usage examples--other than short-term experimental studies on computer-assisted pronunciation (not dictionary) systems. In many respects, the experiential nexus between sound, meaning, grammatical features and usage is becoming potentially even more fragmented. (For a number of reasons, I am still very much a proponent of print-plus-electronic sound sources--that you can touch!) What role should dictionary work and student "dictionary competence" play in your method? That is the question! 


Angelina Van Dyke said...

Got to hand it to the Bard!

Bill Acton said...

Turns out Hamlet was a very haptic guy. He had his hands in everything. . . but just lost touch . . .

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