Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let's (not) get (too) physical in pronunciation teaching!

With apologies to Olivia Newton-John, I still get that response occasionally in workshops and in reaction to blogposts. The focus of HICPR is not on developing a "physical" method or approach to pronunciation teaching but rather on ensuring that the body is given an appropriate place in the process, especially with the development of technology and haptic-grounded virtual reality. Those who are not by nature "connected" to their bodies, either they (a) don't listen to it much at all or (b) are overly sensitive to how it feels and looks, may not be at ease in the "haptic" lesson or integrating movement, touch and general body awareness in their work.

Have done a couple of earlier posts related to mindfulness theory, meditation practices and body representation. A fascinating study by Dykstra and Barelds of Groningen University, entitled, "Examining a model of dispositional mindfulness, body comparison, and body satisfaction," suggests something of a different approach to better orienting learners and instructors to haptic engagement: dispositional mindfulness training. The research demonstrated " . . . a positive relation between mindfulness and body satisfaction: as individuals are more mindful, they are more satisfied with their body . . . consistent with the fact that non-judgment, a central component of mindfulness, is also highly relevant to the construct of body image . . . "
by Clker

The key element there is "dispositional," part of a general, eminently trainable, response to internal and external pressures and stressors, characterizing one's disposition or style of responding (varying from extremely reactive to non-reactive, for example). Combine that with mindfulness, a general, relatively nonjudgmental  awareness or comprehension of what is going on, and you have what appears to be a near optional mindset for learning pronunciation for any . . . body. Dispositional (haptic-integrated) mindful pronunciation learning: DHIMPL!

Some of that is embodied in EHIEP today, the felt sense of confident, comfortable, (dimpled?) managed pedagogical movement, but it should also be the model underlying language instruction in general. The secret to getting there is your point of departure, Lessac's dictum: Train the body first!

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