Friday, November 2, 2012

Minimal pairs booed! Bad, Bud?

Clip art: Clker
Say it ain't so! And if so, so? Using minimal pairs in reading (and by extension) pronunciation instruction to teach phonic rules has been the "go to" technique for generations. Now a new study by Apfelbaum, McMurray and Hazeltine at the University of Illinois suggests that phonic rules are learned much more efficiently when encountered with "variability," to quote the researchers--who are quoted in Science Daily:
Clip art: Clker

"During the study, one group of students learned using lists of words with a small, less variable set of consonants, such as maid, mad, paid, and pad. This is close to traditional phonics instruction, which uses similar words to help illustrate the rules and, presumably, simplify the problem for learners. A second group of students learned using a list of words that was more variable, such as bait, sad, hair, and gap, but which embodied (italics, mine) the same rules."

EMBODIED! See that? Maybe that is why it worked--or maybe not? Caveat emptor: They used a commercially available system called Access Code which has been around for some time to provide the treatment for the study.

This is going to take some time to process, of course . . . At a minimum, will first have to try it out in several different contexts and compare. There!

No comments:

Post a Comment