Sunday, October 6, 2013

Use of (haptic) gesture in pronunciation teaching

Clip art: Clker
An excellent general framework, or place to start, in looking at the use of gesture in pronunciation teaching is Natalie Hudson's 2011 dissertation, "Teacher Gesture in a Post-Secondary English as a Second Language Classroom: A Sociocultural Approach," done at the university of Nevada, Los Vegas. The study looks at the use of gesture by both instructor and student in a pronunciation class. The detailed analysis includes examination of both consciously directed and incidental or "involuntary" use of movement in instruction. There is, for example, one short pronunciation-related section on "Haptic gestures of voice," where the instructor touches her throat to "concretize" consonant voicing.

Where haptic engagement comes much more into play is in anchoring lexical concepts related to smell, hearing taste and touch. That section is closer to what we refer to as haptic anchoring. Although the study is descriptive of what we do "naturally," it points very clearly--at least to me--toward the systematic use of directed movement, and especially haptically anchored pedagogical movement patterns, in pronunciation teaching.

Required reading for any HICP instructor-in-training.

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