Monday, December 3, 2012

Minimal, minimal pair work!

Clip art: Clker
In this month's TESOL Connections is a neat piece by Donna Brinton entitled: Pronunciation: Teaching a segmental contrast. (If you are not a TESOL member you may not be able to access it . . . so take my word for what I am about to say about it!) What caught my eye was this: "Other techniques commonly used are “gadgets” (such as drinking straws or popsicle sticks) so that learners can more accurately feel the position of their tongue or kinesthetic techniques such as asking learners to place their hand palm down underneath their chin and practice the given vowel contrast (such as end vs. and), concentrating on the difference in the position of the jaw (i.e., higher for end and lower for and) . . . " 

Gadgets. Kinaesthetic techniques are assigned to the category of "gadgets" by most methodologists, not something that is integral to the process. And as "simple" as Brinton makes it sound, far too often the PROBLEM is FIRST getting the correct articulatory setting and then anchoring it. Depending on the L1 of the learner and a few dozen other variables, imitating and integrating the right contrastive vowel quality settings may not be a big deal. In that case, the 5-step process, set out over the course of a few weeks is near ideal. For others, greater "interdiction" is required--and that takes either training or outsourcing.

Any thoughts on where to get minimal prePAIRation in the messy "physical" side of the work, if you don't have the time or resources to get yourself trained, to become sufficiently "cEHIEPable" to fix and anchor articulatory problems on the fly?

No comments:

Post a Comment