Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Intrusive and proactive pronunciation instruction (IPPI!)

Clip art: Clker
Love that acronym! Over the life of the blog there have been several posts that relate to exercise persistence. What comes out of that research, from several disciplines, is the idea that advising and helping students managing their time is a very good idea. In this Science Digest summary of MA thesis research by Kansas State student, Tennant, the effect of intrusive and proactive advising and engagement with freshman college students is striking. (US universities are rediscovering the importance of student retention in these difficult economic times, apparently.)  Although Tennant's work focuses primarily on at-risk students, the implications for our work are clear: resources and energy spent on assisting students in mangage life and study outside of class pay off.

What do you know about how your students study and practice of pronunciation on their own? (For that matter, what do you know about their life outside of class?) The ambivalence that we all deal with between learner autonomy and empowerment on one hand-and motivating (or cajoling) them to do their homework that you have assigned for their own good on the other . . . reflects where the field is today. The position that there could possibly be one basic pronunciation program that "fits all"--and that it could be integrated into general speaking and listening instruction--seems very much a throw back to earlier structuralist language teaching.

We have learned a great deal since the 50s about method design and what constitutes the range of strategies and technologies that can be applied to the process. The AH-EPS approach is to (A) use the basic phonological structures of the language as a standard point of departure for enhancing and integrating learners' ability to learn new sounds and vocabulary, and (B) to carefully prescribe a framework for what should go on between formal classes (or working with a haptic video independently.) That framework involves both fixed warm ups and pedagogical-movement routines associated with L2 sound features, and, most importantly, staged extension to learners' individual needs and current program of study.

In a classroom setting that means training both instructors and learners to use a set of techniques for presenting, correcting, remembering and recalling what should be integrated into spontaneous speaking, listening, reading and writing. IPPI! (or perhaps, H-IPPI!)  

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