Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finding your "inner Spock" in pronunciation modeling

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker

Let's take a little poll: When you face your class, apparently it makes a difference whether you give them your left profile or your right, whether you stand to the left side (stage right) or the right side (stage left.) If not in the center of the front of the class, which side do you prefer? Right or left? According to Owen Churches and colleagues at the University of South Australia, Magill, "Scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are each significantly more likely to show their right cheek than their left, while their colleagues in the arts and humanities are each more likely to show their left . . . " The author of the summary in Science Magazine comments further, "The study could indicate a desire on the scientists’ part to project cool-headed rationality." (There was no speculation as to what those in the Humanities, who tend to "face more to the left," might be subconsciously trying to communicate!) So, depending on what you are trying to project, whether "scientific," analytic focus-on-form noticing or holistic, whole-body integrated emotion-packed, expressiveness, you may be able to better project your "inner Spock" or "outer limits" more effectively. But seriously, where we position ourselves in haptic anchoring, relative to the location of the students does seem to matter. For example, we have discovered that you have to be within about 30 feet and probably in the student's right visual field to the extent possilbe, typically with more of your left profile visible. Why that should be the case is not clear but the fact that the left side of the face has been shown in numerous studies to carry more of the emotional content of the message certainly is relevant, as is the fact that the right visual field tends to be the "hotter" in perceiving emotion. If your students are not getting it lately,  it may be just a matter of turning the other cheek . . .

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