Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Aha! change uptake!" versus the "practice" of haptic pronunciation teaching

For a while I had a special label for research reports that managed to confirm what any teacher with a modicum of common sense had figured out already, the "Well . . . duh!" category. There are any number of studies that demonstrate that practice, in addition to in-class work, is essential--in many different fields. In this field there are only a few. I cited one earlier, a 2010 study by Yoshida of Purdue University: those students who practiced pronunciation outside of class did better, significantly so.
Clip art: 
With only a few exceptions, and for the most part with good reason, classroom-based research focuses on in-class or in-lab treatment, not what happens beyond those contexts. In part that is because, contemporary methodology often implicitly must assume that nothing is going to happen outside of class of theoretical interest, whether the context is EFL or elsewhere. 

Decades ago, when ESL was still the conceptual center of pedagogy, you could tell students to go out there and practice, letting yourself off the hook. No longer. We talked about bringing the world into the classroom. For many, the "world" of language learning is now limited to the classroom--and maybe with random assistance of "my technology."

Pronunciation instructors who assume that just in class instruction, without any formal follow up, either face to face or as monitored homework, is sufficient may get lucky occasionally. There are, indeed, those rare, highly receptive students and memorable "Aha! change uptake," teachable moments when a lesson is life- or interlanguage pronunciation- altering, when explanation and insight and contextualized practice and uptake all collide! If you recall one, however, please describe it in a comment to this post! (Generous reward offered!) 

For Essential haptic-integrated English pronunciation model (EHIEP), and its haptic video offspring, Acton Haptic-integrated English pronunciation system (AH-EPS), practice is the sine qua non of pronunciation change. Haptic anchoring (gesture, plus vocal resonance positioned in the visual field consistently), sets up the process well but requires follow up, either in integrated focus on form by the instructor and peers, or practice outside of class, preferably with a technology assist. 

Haptic engagement, by its very nature is exploratory and at least temporarily very somatically attention grabbing (emotionally gripping.) But it is not sufficient. (That is, in part, why gesture work, in general, feels so good but rarely, by itself, sticks, to use a good haptic metaphor.) 

Next post will back up a bit and look at research underlying the relationship between haptic anchoring and subsequent noticing and practice. Keep in touch. 

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