Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Easing the pain of pronunciation work . . .

Clip art: Clker
With a little empathy, trust and T.L.C. apparently. According to 2011 research by Michigan State University researcher Sarinopoulos and colleagues, summarized by Science Daily, "The brain scans revealed those who had the patient-centered interview showed less activity in the anterior insula . . . and also self-reported less pain . . . a good first step that puts some scientific weight behind the case for empathizing with patients, getting to know them and building trust."

Clip art: Clker
Several earlier posts have addressed the critical importance of trust in getting learners to (quite literally) step out of their comfort zones in mirroring the pedagogical movement patterns or gestures of kinaesthetic learning, in general, and haptic-integration in particular. Empathy is perhaps the key to achieving and maintaining that working relationship in the classroom. And one of the most important ways that empathy is signaled, of course, is with . . . synchronized body movement and its impact on brain waves. 

A number of studies have also investigated the link between empathy and learning pronunciation, for example, a 1980 study by Guiora, Acton, Erard, and Strickland, that found that a valium-induced empathy-like state in native English speaking undergraduates resulted in significantly enhanced ability to repeat impossibly difficult phrases in Thai. (Trust me on that one!)

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