Sunday, October 14, 2012

In your ears!!! (Not for accurate sound discrimination!)

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Have long recommended that learners NOT use headsets when working on pedagogical movement patterns--and also go easy on that practice in general sound discrimination work. (For one thing their arms get tangled up in the cords!) Now there is an empirical study that adds a little support to that principle. As reported in Science Daily, Okamoto and Kakigi of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan, along with Pantev and Teismann from the University of Muenster, have demonstrated that listening to loud music with mini earphones may have a detrimental effect on ability to make fine judgements on sound discrimination. Although the "damage" was not detectable using standard hearing tests, the effect was striking with their more sensitive instrumentation. They termed the effect one of losing perception of "vividness" in contrast. The impact would then be even more "pronounced" with a learner that does not have good sound discrimination ability in the first place--especially one who plays his or her mp3 player at levels well beyond "vivid!" On the other hand, the learner may be cranking up the volume to compensate for lack of perceived vividness--especially men with typical loss of high frequency response with age. So, help students learn to carefully manage the volume of their recorded pronunciation practice and the rest of their mp3-ing. Sound advice. 

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