Sunday, June 10, 2012

Individual versus pair work in (haptic-integrated) pronunciation teaching

The advice out there on using pair and group work in pronunciation teaching is mixed. For focusing on the comprehensibility side, for example, Gilbert and others have developed a range of effective communicative pair instruction formats where articulation of the sound is essential to meaning. In general, the enthusiasm for group and pair work, although well documented in other areas of instruction, has not been validated, the subject of published research in pronunciation teaching. Neither has peer-based monitoring and correcting of oral production in class, especially at the segmental level, been systematically explored. The same applies for what goes on in individual practice or after class in the form of homework or ad hoc student-initiated practices. (There are a few examples, such as Stevick's classic, Success with foreign language learning . . .  available on for about $265 now!) That is all indicative of an overall "non-clinical" approach to instruction in the field today--the motivation for this blog!
     Most would agree that both group and individual work are advantageous in all contexts but often unrealistic in some settings as well. In EHIEP work, for effective results, both must be exploited continuously. The key--somewhat being enabled now by the development of cheap, accessible web-based technology--is the idea that  outside of claslearners should be able to learn and practice key pronunciation features from mirroring video models (See previous post.) At the same time they should also be working on their own, personal word lists and mini-dialogues, embedding and embodying new and changed elements. Efficient integration of pronunciation instruction in class and subsequent integration by students of those targets into their spontaneous speech, requires both effective "inside out" personal work and "outside in" social practice. The next breakthrough in pronunciation teaching is "mirror-ly" a matter of time--and (haptic-integrated) technology--as individualized practice first more systematically complements and then ultimately replaces the classroom. Keep in touch. 

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