Sunday, November 18, 2012

Got an itch to teach pronunciation?

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
This is fun. Several of the pedagogical movement patterns in the EHIEP system involve either scratching (or brushing) one hand with the fingernails (or just fingers) of the other hand, as the sound is articulated. Have known for some time that when it is demonstrated by the instructor (on video) and learners are asked to mirror that movement, that pattern catches on very quickly. Now we know why. Research by Holle, Warne, Seth, Critchley and Ward of the Universities of Sussex and Hall (abstract on PNAS website) even suggests which personality trait might respond more readily to seeing someone else scratch an itch: neuroticism (tendency to respond disproportionately to negative emotions.)

Research on mirror neurons alone demonstrates just how powerful the impact of witnessing movement or gesture by another person can be. In this study the extension to tactile/touch is important for understanding just how haptic-integrated pronunciation instruction works, especially the potential effectiveness of pronunciation-based haptic anchors (gesture which includes hands touching as a stressed syllable of a word is spoken.)

Not sure exactly how neuroticism figures in, but in some of the protocols (sets of training techniques) we do use contrasting sets of positive and negative terms, anchored on opposite sides of the body or visual field, e.g. tough/nice, tricky/easy, puzzling/beautiful, complicated/fascinating. The "negatives" may actually resonate more with some! So don't be too concerned if you get an itch to get "tough" on your potentially neurotic students or colleagues who are critical of our work, who see it as too puzzling, tricky or complicated . . . 

No comments:

Post a Comment