Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Love of fatigue-inducing drill and perfect pronunciation

Clip art: Clker

Clip art: Clker
There had to be a term for it. From a 2011 study by O'Hara, FRCS, summarized by Science Daily: "functional dysphonia (FD), a voice disorder in which an abnormal voice exists with no vocal pathology." Two of the key contributing factors were excessive perfectionism and fatigue. Apparently the symptoms of FD can be of several types from change in voice pitch to serious pain. Had any perfectionist students in your classes that (nearly) burned themselves out striving for an unachievable native-speaker model? What that suggests, of course, is not that the targeted model or accent is the sole source of the problem as much as the perfectionist attitude of either the learner or the methodology. Some earlier structuralist or audiolingual pronunciation approaches do, in retrospect, seem to fit that profile. The contemporary default response of resorting, instead, to ad hoc "near peer" models (although they may have the edge on almost everything but desired accent, according to Bernat) or conscious decisions to stop short of what is considered "acceptable pronunciation" by the learner on similar grounds (of fluency or shift in priorities) is probably not the answer either. Talk about functional "dys-pronunciation" . . . 

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