Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Haptic phonetics for pronunciation teaching

Clipart: Clker
Clipart: Clker
Most would agree that some training in phonetics is essential for both instructor and learner. How and when that is done can vary greatly, of course. (See summary article by Ashby on the LLAC website, for example.) Most consonant work in phonetics instruction involves a substantial amount of kinaesthetic and tactile engagement, directing learner awareness to points of contact and movement of various parts of the vocal tract. (In EHIEP work, the techniques used for basic consonant change are quite standard, although how that new felt sense is anchored once it is established can be quite different, more systematically L2 learner-oriented.) The haptic-based procedures for teaching the vowel system of a language have been designed for presentation and adaptation of the vowels of any language, not just English. Anchoring sounds in the visual field means positioning higher vowels relatively . . . higher, lower vowels relatively . . . lower, front vowels more to the right, and back vowels more to the left. Diphthongs and vowels with off-glides involve movement across the visual field. Tense vowels involve intense concentration on the sound without movement. Lax vowels involve a light tapping of hands with the articulation, etc. (Those are just representative of how movement and the felt sense of vowel resonance and quality can be anchored in the visual field.) I have done demonstrations of haptic-anchored versions the vowel systems of many languages and dialects, including Korean, French, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, various US dialects, often in first anchoring the learner's L1 before moving to English. Will begin posting Youtube comparative vowel systems this fall. Train the body first, but do "Phonhaptic" training right after that! 

1 comment:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

My guess is that vowels are the key to changing or "reducing" accents. Here is a recent program by Babel on CBC Radio on accents in the workplace that may shed some socio-cultural insight into available Canadian markets:

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