Friday, August 3, 2012

The texture(s) of pronunciation (haptic-integrated) teaching

Clip art: Clker
Earlier posts have reported on recent research on the neurophysiology of touch, essentially showing that the brain responds to texture-based words and phrases, such as rough, smooth, hard, soft, slippery, sticky, prickly, slimey, etc., in very much in the same way as it does to actual, physical touch sensations. Combing that sense of texture with the way it is used in music, that is the sum of what is going on in a musical presentation at any moment in time, you have a very helpful framework for designing effective pronunciation teaching techniques and interventions. From the music perspective, among other things, a great deal is going on in haptic-integrated instruction:

  • Sound is being generated by the vocal chords
  • Resonance throughout the upper body is being "experienced" vividly
  • The articulatory apparatus of the mouth and upper throat are engaged
  • Hands and arms move across the visual field to a fixed point identified with a specific phonological target
  • Hands touch on stressed or focused elements
  • The orthographic representation is probably being visualized
  • The meaning of the word or element is probably (ideally) being linked in memory
  • The general context of usage for the word is (ideally) being consciously attended to

From the physical/metaphorical texture perspective, there are several different textures of touch that may be experienced when the hands touch either each other or some point on the upper body or torso. Among them:

  • "Rough" on lax vowel-based pedagogical movement patterns (PMPs)
  • "Smooth" on tense vowel-based PMPs
  • "Prickly + gliding" on tense vowels w/off-glides or R+vowel combination-based PMPs
  • "Soft and hard" tapping on unstressed and stressed vowel-based PMPs
  • "Slippery" gliding or strong downward pressure on intonation contour-based PMPs
  • "Smooth gliding" on fluency-based PMPs
  • "Hard, rough squeeze" (on fuzzy tennis ball) during fast-speech PMPs

It's not hard to grasp at all . . .

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