Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hearts and hand grenades: Why students must like you using movement in pronunciation teaching!

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Now here is a very interesting, relevant study. According to Aziz-Zadeh and colleagues at USC, (Summarized by Science Daily, of course!) if your students like you, they will be more likely to mirror your movements more accurately--and enjoy doing it. Not only will they be able to "lock on" better, they will perceive your actions to be relatively faster than were they to like you "less." There have been studies demonstrating the impact of attitude toward the speaker on perception of message, etc. for decades, but this one demonstrates how that happens, how it affects the observer's response.

This "I like the way you move, there!" effect is, in part, behind the use of video as the "lead instructor" in EHIEP work. Learners are initially oriented to and trained in the protocols (sets of procedures that teach one or more techniques that can be used in the classroom or for independent study) in short, aerobic-training-like videos. (Currently, I am the model, but we will replace me before long!)  Getting to that strategy took over a decade of experience with training ESL/EFL teachers in how to do selected techniques themselves in front of the class. What we discovered was that most trainees could learn to do the techniques easily but the results when they took them back to the classroom were mixed, at best. Once the entire system was in place we could begin to see why a particular strategy did or did not work.

One thing became obvious: the relationship between the instrutor and learner was crucial, from several  perspectives. Having someone mirror your movements is, in many respects--as reported in previous blog posts--analogous to requiring better rapport and empathy, obviously something many students may not buy into! Ironically, why a technique didn't seem to work could be due to lack of "liking" or excessive "liking." Either one. Going in the opposite direction from the USC research, if you are "too close" to a student or students in front of you not only can it cause you to look at them too often but it can also easily disrupt your ability to execute and monitor the pedagogical movement patterns in play.

The solution: have a video model do the critical initial training--and then the instructor and students can use the PMP as necessary in presenting, correcting, monitoring and recalling a sound or word or phrase with a "repaired" sound in it. You're gonna like EHIEP (or the instructional videos your create yourself, even of yourself)--so will your students. 

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