Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cooperative pronunciation (fluency) learning

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
For most learners, efficient pronunciation change requires having consistent opportunities to practice the new sounds socially, in "friendly" situations and groups. I learned early that in most cases small group pronunciation work is consistently superior to one-on-one tutoring, from several perspectives. New research by Rand and colleagues at Harvard on what enables effective cooperation in groups suggests something of why that might be. In essence, cooperative communication or engagement proceeds much more efficiently when participants interact or respond "intuitively" or "quickly" without undue pausing to reflect, think or plan what they are going to say. Of course, the right kind of classroom-based group conversation activities can create those conditions consistently, where learners not only can but must experiment with the new or changed forms. The key is in the task design and "community of practice" that allows both targeted usage and corresponding supportive social setting. In that environment not only can learners speak and respond spontaneously but targeted feedback by both the instructor and their classmates can be experienced as absolutely appropriate. The bottom line here: Don't even think about not doing it in your work . . . 

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