Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pronunciation homework as "action" research

In the process of finishing up work on the student workbook of the EHIEP system for the next set of field trials this fall. Have reviewed every student pronunciation textbook and related article methods book that I can find looking at how homework is treated or prescribed. "Advice" runs the gamut from "practice X at home," to sets of exercises (often including audio) with detailed instructions. (I am aware that speech pathologists, 1-on-1 pronunciation tutors and intelligibility "businesses" often have sometimes complex systems for homework assignment and execution, but nothing is--understandably--accessible in print on the details of those frameworks.) On an interesting handout from Professor Do at University of Illinois-Champaign, on the contrast between homework problems assigned in Engineering and research problems, I found this fascinating quote from Fujio Cho, President of Toyota, which has been very helpful in rethinking the basic framework and task sequence to be assigned. It highlights the essential functions both "Just do it!" and "Research it! --or at least just think about it constructively!"

"There are many things one doesn't understand and therefore we ask them why don!t you just go ahead and take action, try to do something? You realize how little you know and you face your own failures and you simply can correct those failures and redo it again and at the second trial you realize another mistake or another thing you didn't like so you can redo it once again. So by constant improvement, or should I say, the improvement based upon action, one can rise to a higher level of practice and knowledge.”

"Improvement based on action." I like that expression. Something like this: Establish a practice regimen for learners that is structured from the same perspective, that is, consistent, prescribed action, followed by systematic reflection on (incremental) improvement (See previous post.) Sort of like Toyota's current (Canadian version of its) slogan: Moving forward, eh . . .

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