Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thinking (and learning pronunciation) outside the brain

Clip art: Clker
Dynamic or "external" imagery (imagery accompanied by synchronized, related body movement rehearsal) boosted high jumpers' jumping by an amazing 45%, according to a study by Guillot, Moschberger and Collet. of the Centre de Recherche et d'Innovation sur le Sport of Université Claude Bernard Lyon, summarized in Science Daily. This is a very relevant study for HICP work. Here you have the cognitive/visual "object" or process, in this case jumping over a bar positioned about 7 feet above the ground, explicitly coordinated with external physical "practice."

That is the essence of how effective, haptic-integrated or embodied change in pronunciation in general,  should happen as well. The concept, a sound or word or expression, is well linked to its "felt sense" (what it feels like in the body to say or produce it) and a pedagogical movement pattern that haptically (with movement and touch) not only helps coordinate or link the brain and body, but also, itself, in some way embodies the fundamental character or essence of the target.

For example, the rising pitch of a yes/no question would be accompanied by 
  • not just by an ascending gesture 
  • but one that is positioned in the visual field by movement and touch 
  • such that the height corresponds to relative pitch of the utterance. 
In addition, the prominent vowel in the stressed word in the phrase 

  • would have been previously somatically grounded (so that the physical sensations involved are brought strongly to awareness
  • and can be described in terms of location and intensity) 
  • and practiced,  focusing on its textural quality, e.g., roughness, softness, smoothness, stickiness.  

Not to "raise the bar" too high when it comes to integrated pronunciation teaching, but this is one time when being a bit outside the current, generally "disembodied" approach to what we do is actually something of a "no-brainer!" 

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