Thursday, November 15, 2012

FLASH! Conscious suppression of pronunciation work!

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
Conscious Flash Suppression (CFS) technology could well be in the future of pronunciation teaching, based on research by Hassin, Sklar, Goldstein, Levy, Mandel and Maril at Hebrew University, as reported in Science Daily. CFS is described as " . . . one eye is exposed to a series of rapidly changing images, while the other is simultaneously exposed to a constant image. The rapid changes in the one eye dominate consciousness, so that the image presented to the other eye is not experienced consciously." What they discovered was that the material not experienced consciously was still processed and responded to non-consciously in various ways.

Their conclusion: " . . . humans can perform complex, rule-based operations unconsciously, contrary to existing models of consciousness and the unconscious." Avoiding conscious interference with pronunciation change is big. Now that may sound like a candidate for your "Well . . . duh!" file (A finding that is not only common sense but probably not worth the grant money blown on coming up with it.) Two important developments here, however:

  • First, so much of what happens between instruction and spontaneous performance in pronunciation work is unconscious--or at least not the subject of research today. Even the focus in HICPR on the "clinical" is still a relative "outlier" in this field, although not in some related disciplines. We should be able to study that more systematically. 
  • Second, all methodologists assign a great deal of the work to the "dark side," whether they make that explicit (consciously) or not, some more than others, such as Lozanov . . . or Acton! We need to stop suppressing the use of several great techniques that have been proven by experience to work the subconscious effectively.

Would love to get ahold of some of that CFS technology and try it out with haptic anchoring of academic word list vocabulary in time for TESOL in Dallas. Just imagine the impact of a pedagogical movement pattern accompanying the "constant" image of the acronym "CFS." Hard to suppress the excitement already . . .   

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