Friday, July 6, 2012

Pleasant (physical) pronunciation practice

Clipart: Clker
Clipart: Clker
Do you generally associate the word "pleasant" with "pronunciation practice?" You should--or could--according to this Penn State University study of the effect of 15 minutes or more of exercise on mood. What the research revealed was that even mild physical exercise results in a temporary "pleasant-activated feeling" which seems to encourage one to keep it up. (Earlier posts looked at the factors involved in general exercise persistence.) Beginning the day or class with a body-based warm up which might include movement and stretching of not only the vocal tract but much of the entire body, for example, (See previous post!), should get things off in a better mood. Add to that various "pleasant"  pedagogical movement patterns accompanying presentation, review, anchoring and correcting of language being focused on in the speaking or listening class and both attitude toward pronunciation--and results can't help but improve. In other words, there should be a felt sense of physical engagement and "exercise" that is ongoing, especially in speaking instruction. That is clearly the case in most good public speaking programs, some even creating an almost dance-like mood to capture the dynamic of speaker and audience rapport and communication. In my experience, even coming back to haptic or just kinesthetic engagement intermittently during a lesson achieves much the same effect. If you do a bit of systematic choreography such that you have physically active anchoring near the end of the class in some form, the overall reaction to the work of the day on the part of the students--and myself!--will inevitably be more positive. Plan on it. 

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