Monday, July 16, 2012

Deliberate (pronunciation) practice!

"Deliberate practice" as described in a Science Magazine summary report on an experiment using it at the University of British Columbia is an 
" . . . active, iterative process that involves working through their misconceptions with fellow students and getting immediate feedback from the instructor . . . [based on] the latest research in cognitive science, neuroscience, and learning theory . . . [that] begins with the instructor giving students a multiple-choice question on a particular concept, which the students discuss in small groups before answering electronically. Their answers reveal their grasp of (or misconceptions about) the topic, which the instructor deals with in a short class discussion before repeating the process with the next concept."

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Breathtaking huh! (Boldface there is mine. In elementary education the analogy would be the KWL chart on the wall: what we know, what we want to learn and what we learned.) So, how would we apply that amazing process in pronunciation teaching? I'm not entirely sure at this point, but I'm sure there is a cognitive phonologist out there someplace who can not only tell us how but who would take that and run with it. I have seen comments in various studies where student beliefs about pronunciation were "discussed" or where students were provided with the opportunity to talk about those issues in journaling, etc., but not in a systematic, interactive class and small group process. In one of the upcoming pilot studies with learners of sufficiently high general competence to pull it off, we'll give that a try. In fact, it should be possible to work out a general set of brief multiple choice tests to go along with each protocol for students. Let me discuss it with my "small group" here and get back to you . . . 

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