Saturday, August 18, 2012

Full-body pronunciation learning readiness

Clip art: Clker

Clip art: Clker
In a recent post I alluded to the fact that karate masters develop the ability to bring their entire bodies into the act of punching. The EHIEP protocols, taken as a whole, exercise the whole body. (The Warm up protocol thoroughly engages at least the upper body.) I am often asked if there are not some learners or instructors who do not feel comfortable doing these kinds of kinaesthetic and haptic activities. If not carefully introduced to the process and "warmed up" properly, there are, indeed, those who have difficulty just moving their arms along with the videos, let alone their entire bodies. I have over the years been especially interested in talking to those people. Some have learning disabilities, some are ambidextrous, some seem just very introverted. One of my standard questions for one of them is always, "Do you do yoga or some kind of full-body physical exercise that involves extensive, formal body awareness?" I don't recall meeting more than a handful who answer in the affirmative. At the other end of the continuum, often those who seem especially good at learning the system--have done yoga or something similar, even some types of full-body weight training or aerobics, where they had to develop close, conscious monitoring of muscle position and elasticity. The key, ironically, is often that conscious attention to movement that develops. One of my favorite yoga instructors is Denise Austin, not just because she is very polished and easy to follow but because of her superb use of instructional/pedagogical language in directing students attention to where in their bodies they should have some kind of operational "felt sense." I'm absolutely certain that if I began class with the linked, 15-minute full-body yoga routine that students' performance in class in acquiring pronunciation would go right off the charts. Likewise, some treatment of that type might even set up an interesting empirical test of aptitude in haptic-integration or kinaesthetic pronunciation work. If you don't have time for that, at least do it yourself three or four times. (Caveat emptor: extremely addictive!

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