Saturday, June 30, 2012

The (left-to-) right way to teach and anchor pronunciation

Clipart: Clker
Earlier posts have examined aspects of the visual field. In general terms, for at least English speakers, the right side comes off as (a) somewhat brighter, (b) more energetic, (c) more analytic, (d) more change-oriented . . . and, it turns out,  according to this study of soccer referees, (e) a bit more positive (or less "foul"?)--when an action is seen as moving left to right, rather than in the opposite direction. If the potential foul incurred by a player moving right to left, versus left to right in the visual field of the referee, there was a statistically significant chance that it was more likely to be called. According to the ScienceShots research summary, this phenomena is established in other fields as well and is actively exploited, for example, by cartoonists. Of course, some of the basis for that has to do with the fact that each eye is (roughly speaking) "controlled by" the opposing hemisphere of the brain. The research and popular understanding of "left" vs "right" brain functioning corresponds to many of those differing characteristics of the visual field as well. The fact that most of the EHIEP pedagogical movement patterns go from left to right and terminate in the right visual field is, however, post-theoretical. By that I mean that the practice developed through classroom experience initially, not based on the neurophysiological evidence that has come to light since. The "positive" bias goes consistently in the student's direction. In the visual field of the instructor observing students doing PMPs, on the contrary, all the motion appears to go . . . right to left. I'm going to explore this. In the meantime, just check your mood before class begins (See previous post!) and go easy on "yellow" carding of pronunciation and sloppy PMPing, eh!

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