Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving aural comprehension "a hand"-- in haptic pronunciation training

A common question we get is something to the effect of "How do the pedagogical gestures (PMPs - movement across the visual field terminating in touch on a stressed element of a word) work?" 2012 research by Turkeltaub and colleagues at Georgetown University, reported by Science Daily, suggests how that happens. In that study
it was demonstrated that what you are doing with your hands may affect what you hear, or at least how quickly you hear it.

In essence, subjects were instructed to respond by touching a button when they detected a heavily embedded background sound, either with their right or left hand. Right handed response was better at detecting fast-changing sounds; the left, better at slow changing sounds, according to Turkeltaub, " . . . the left hemisphere likes rapidly changing sounds, such as consonants, and the right hemisphere likes slowly changing sounds, such as syllables or intonation . . . " Well, maybe . . .

The study at least further establishes the potential connection between haptic work and L2 sound change. In this case, when the learner performs a PMP, mirroring the model and listening to the model of the target sound--without overt speaking--anchoring should be enhanced, more efficient. Part of the reason for that, as reported in several pervious posts, is that "fast" sounds tend to be in the right visual field (attached to the left hemisphere) and "slower" sounds, the left.

AMPISys, Inc. 
In the EHIEP protocol for intonation, for example, the intonation contour or tone group begins in the left visual field with the left hand moving to the right until it touching the right hand on the stressed syllable or focus word. (See Intonation PMP demonstration linked off earlier post.) In the vowel protocols, similar PMPS are involved as well as the visual display reflects the "fast and slow" phonaesthetic quality of the vowels. (See earlier post on that as well.)

Keep in touch! (v2.0 will be released next week!)

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