Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Positive pronunciation anchors and pronunciation practice word lists

Clip art: Clker
Generally, when I refer to "anchoring" in HICP work, the focus is the multiple modality "hexus" of (a) the graphic representation of the word, (b) the linguistic context, that is the phrase or sentence in which the word appears, (c) the articulatory movements involved in producing it, (d) the pedagogical movement pattern we use in anchoring it, (e) the "sound" coming in through the ears and (f) the body resonance generated in producing it.

Likewise, the concept of "embodiment" in language teaching, as elaborated by Holme (2012) in a recent TESOL quarterly article, focuses, in effect, on new language ending up "in the body," or thoroughly absorbed and integrated with all senses (pick your metaphor there!) How it gets there can be in any number ways, including visual imagery, word association, meaning association, context dependency of a text--even "physical" approaches such as HICP to some extent. (Holme at least pays lip service to the clinical side of the field. For a cognitive linguist, that is big!)

A few earlier posts have alluded to the potential impact of relative positive or negative context on anchoring as well. For example, trying to anchor a new sound in a deadly boring, decontextualized, monotonous, mindless, pointless repetition drill, at the end of the day may not be the most effective setting for that. In fact, that sounds downright depressing.

This research by Dalgleish, Navrady, Bird, Hill, Dunn, and Golden of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, according to the Science Daily Summary, suggests an additional perspective in working with anchoring. In a study done with the chronically depressed, subjects were to use the "method-of-loci" strategy:

"The method-of-loci strategy consists of associating vivid (positive) memories with physical objects or locations -- buildings you see on your commute to work every day, for instance. To recall the memories, all you have to do is imagine going through your commute." 

The idea, apparently was to get the subjects to think "happy thoughts" more often, connecting them to physical objects or places, thus easing their depression. Here's a thought: Instead of working with haptic integration and embodiment to help students with remembering changed sounds . . . Actually, I am working with the "method-of-loci" strategy, exploring how to "embody" it with pronunciation of the Academic Word List in a workshop at the upcoming TESOL 2013 Convention in Dallas. A great venue to generate some pleasant memories at! 

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