Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cultural body image in haptic-integrated pronunciation teaching

Clip art: Clker

Clip art: Clker
I am often asked if there aren't some students and instructors that feel uncomfortable with moving their hands, arms and upper bodies in anchoring pronunciation. There are occasionally. In previous posts I have looked at factors that may influence a learner's ability to benefit from haptic engagement and the kind of attention management that is involved. There is an extensive research literature related to  personality, body image, self-confidence, self-esteem, culture and gender. For example, this  MA thesis by Baird at Western Kentucky University  or this gender-based study of body image and self-esteem by Cheanneacháin and Quinn at Dublin Business School.  In our work, it is, of course, important to be alert especially to the cultural "gestural constraints and spaces" of our students. Over the years I have "discovered" any number of potential pedagogical movement patterns, especially related to hand movements across the visual field and facial configurations, that violate rules in some culture. In general the current inventory of PMPs has been thoroughly tested on all the main cultural groups that we encounter, but there will always be surprises. When we do encounter a  resistent or reticent learner the underlying cause of the problem seems more often to be related to the fit between learner's satisfaction with some idealized L1 "body culture' and his or her own. In the Cheanneacháin and Quinn study, the typical female-bias in terms of body image dissatisfaction was not evident; in the Baird study, it was the African-American males' perceived or identified fit to that culture's male ideal that affected body satisfaction and identity. Body satisfaction in full-bodied interventions (FBIs--see recent posts) is always a factor, at least initially. Time to hit the gym? (Consider taking a couple of your more recalcitrant students with you!) 

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