Thursday, July 19, 2012

Better pronunciation? Shocking!

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Always looking for new approaches to improving effectiveness of pronunciation work, especially kinaesthetic/haptic systems, like EHIEP. There are going to be some significant breakthroughs in efficiency of our work. I have looked at a number of such innovative possibilites in past posts. Here is another that could well be among those tools in the future. Based in part on the general accessibility of fMRI technology, a wide range of "electronic" interventions are in use by neurotherapists, such as this one described in a Science Daily of research by a team from NIH, Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities. In the study subjects who got the right level of stimulation of the motor cortex (for about 20 minutes per day during a 5-day training regimen to learn a new, complex joy-stick based complex motor skill set) performed significantly better:  "tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) involves mild electrical stimulation applied through surface electrodes on the head, and works by modulating the excitability, or activity, of cells in the brain's outermost layers." The main effect was still strong three months later. Granted there might be some technical problems with implementing that approach right now in the classroom, but the principle, of accelerating what the researchers term "consolidation," through focused brain stimulation and biofeedback mechanisms is well established and understood. If that is not enough to get a student's motor (cortex) going, what is?

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