Sunday, December 28, 2014

Play it again, SLLP! (Avoiding the 8 deadly sins of second language learning practice)

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With apologies to Humphrey Bogart, a good first question in a learner interview is something like: How do you practice your pronunciation or English? If he or she plays or has recently played a musical instrument or sang well, I will follow up with an analogous, music-based prompt. 
Glyde at has a new piece on something like the "8 deadly sins of bad (guitar) practice--and how to overcome them," which applies beautifully to our work: (His specific "how to" recommendations have been omitted for the time being.)
  • Playing instead of practicing guitar
  • Focusing too much on new material
  • Going through the motions. 
  • Failure to break up large practice sessions
  • Failing to avoid distractions
  • Failing to avoid boring practice routines 
  • Failing to set up a practice schedule
  • Failing to apply what you know
Not sure that I have ever seen a better, comprehensive framework for embodied practice. I'm going to come back and look at how that approach works specifically in haptic pronunciation teaching. In the meantime, feel free to comment on any of those. 

And, if you are serious about getting even better results with a wider range of learner "styles" this year, just begin by candidly sketching out for yourself how/if your system avoids those pitfalls (or persistent SLLP ups!) -- and have a very good 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New off-the-charts English Vowels-- for haptic pronunciation teaching

Displayed below are the new AHEPS (Acton Haptic English Pronunciation System) v3.0 vowel charts for General North American English (GNAE). Those are available in several formats (download, hardcopy, plastic-coated posters of 3 sizes, black and white or in custom colours.) 

GNAE vowels are covered in Modules 2 and 3 of AHEPS v3.0. 

Haptic pronunciation teaching posters can also be provided for other Englishes, English dialects or other languages on request/special order. Basic cost for a colour set of 24x36 posters seen below begins at about $100 (for GNAE), plus shipping. 36x48 and larger sizes also available. For additional information, contact

Downloads of individual posters jpegs from GETONIC: $2.99 each.  Just click on link to buy/download, or you can, of course, download those jpeg files below! With each GENTONIC order, a complimentary PDF copy of the latest Instructor Notes will be sent as well.  

          Complete chart! ($2.99)

      Rough vowels! ($2.99)

Double smooth vowels! ($2.99)

The above format is the standard AHEPS student perspective. The mirror-image, instructor perspective (aligned with the IPA vowel chart) is also available upon request. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Captain Kirk's 6 principles of leadership applied to teaching pronunciation teaching!

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In a recent conference presentation, a noted methodologist asserted that "Teacher educators (generally) don't teach ESL/pronunciation (themselves)--and (consequently much of) what they do teach their teacher trainees about it hasn't been tried out in the classroom!"

She has a point.

But I'd even take that a step further and say that if a theorist or methodologist or textbook writer is not currently teaching pronunciation in a real classroom, then her words, theories, observations about what teacher educators do--and recent editions of her textbooks--should all be dismissed as well!

Should that dire predicament describe your current pronunciation teaching praxis (or lack there of) then you need to follow our (unauthorized) adaptation of the leadership principles of Captain James T. Kirk (of Star Trek) as they apply to pronunciation teacher trainers*:

1. Never stop learning (even if it means periodically taking up some kind of new pronunciation-related  skill development, such as another language or musical instrument).
2. Have advisors of many different worldviews (from different theoretical perspectives and related disciplines, such as body imaging).
3. Be part of the away team (Stay in the classroom, yourself, even if means just occasional one-on-one pronunciation tutoring).
4. Play poker, not chess (focus on hand to hand, minute by minute pedagogical experience, not just strategy and meta-communication).
5. Intuition is the key to knowing without knowing how you know (and central to embodied pronunciation teaching and avoiding burn out).
6. Destroy the Enterprise (but first try being just annoyingly heretical, before resorting to calls for revolution).

Even better: "Boldly go where no man has gone before" (but many are now!) and sign on board with haptic pronunciation teaching (No noncombatants permitted!) 

*Revised excerpt from AHEPS v3.0 (Instructor’s) Notes (by Bill Acton), Introduction, pp. 4~6. (For free copy, contact:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Darwin award nominees for English pronunciation teaching

Clipart: Clker
You have probably seen a note someplace on the recent research "finding" that men tend to do the idiotic much more frequently than women. That was based, in part, on an analysis of annual "Darwin Award" winners over the years. For those not familiar with those "awards," they are (tongue in cheek) given to someone who " . . . supposedly contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions."

Anyone  devoted to the procedures noted below probably does us all a favour by quickly going out of business as a pronunciation teacher. Here are a few samples, my favourites, of what we might term the "near idiotic" in pronunciation teaching. (Most are from websites or pronunciation textbooks--or workshops I've attended over the years!)  If you have any other examples, please post them below!

  • "Move your tongue slightly up and back,  and curl up the edges to make a groove . . . "
  • "Now check your partner's pronunciation as she reads that passage."
  • "As long as you are intelligible, you'll get (or keep) the job."
  • "Work together with your spouse or significant other on your pronunciation."
  • "Think, Men, think!" (The Harold Hill method from the "Music Man")
  • "Go out and talk with native speakers and practice your 'r's and 'l's!"
  • "Listen carefully to yourself while you are speaking!"
  • "Stick your tongue out and whip it back in, scraping the scum off it to do a "th" sound!"
  • "Fill your mouth with marbles or hard candy and read this."
  • "Write that down." (with no instructions as to how or how to follow up or practice)
  • "Look it up in the dictionary" (with no instructions as to how or how to follow up or practice)
  • "If you just have good conversation in English often enough your pronunciation will improve enough on its own."
  • "Convince those around you to accept your accent."
  • "Once you are a teenager, it is almost too late to improve your pronunciation much."
  • "Native speaker-like accent in 4 weeks!"
  • "Just watch my lips."

Full citation:
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2014, December 11). Study supports the theory that men are idiots. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 16, 2014 from

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Out of sight--but well-filed and managed (English) pronunciation change

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A key feature of haptic pronunciation teaching is homework and practice management. In other words, once a new or improved sound or word has been introduced and anchored in class or someplace, it must be worked on by the learner consistently and systematically. (We typically tell students that it takes a couple of weeks to accomplish that.)

Research by Storm and Stone of UCSD, summarized by Science Daily (See full citation below) suggests that the process can be improved significantly by the learner employing an optimal filing system, one that allows "offloading" work done but with clear pathways back for future reference. What they found was that as long as subjects had confidence that the material learned remained accessible, their ability to go on learn new material was significantly better. If not, performance was equal to that of the control group.

Just for fun, ask your students to show you their pronunciation notes sometime . . .

There are on the market several language learning-specific apps for learning vocabulary, etc., but our experience is that most any word processor with companion filing system will work. As long as students are trained in how to practice, how much and when--and how to file it--the "savings" should be substantial! Nothing complicated, just hierarchically organized folders with "memorable" names!

A forthcoming blogpost will detail some of the alternatives that we have found productive. In the meantime, keep in touch--and clean up all that useless clutter on your hard drive!

Full citation:
Association for Psychological Science. (2014, December 10). Saving old information can boost memory for new information. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 14, 2014 from

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why using gesture in (pronunciation) teaching (sometimes) doesn't work well--or at all

Reviewed a manuscript recently that reported on a study exploring the use of gesture in pronunciation teaching, based on a method that seemed to require learners to repeatedly mirror
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instructor movements. The case made was not convincing, for at least a couple of reasons.

Research on mirror neuron function (even in monkeys, according the Association for Psychological Science - see full citation below!) has important implications for use of gesture in teaching, especially pronunciation. Normally, our mirror neurons mimic observed movement, giving us something of the sensation that we are actually doing what we are seeing, or perhaps moving along in synchrony with a person in our visual field. (Watch the audience at a dance recital, most discretely "moving along with" the dancers.) That should, in principle, make using gesture a potentially powerful vehicle for instruction. For most it probably is; for some, it isn't.

There are any number of reasons why gesture may not be that effective or why some learners and instructors simply do not feel comfortable with much "co-gesticulation." After decades of wondering exactly why gestural techniques were not more generally adopted (and adapted) in pronunciation instruction--when it was so natural and easy for me, personally--I got an answer from a student: the REVEG and ADAEBIP effects.

Rui was what I would term extremely "visually eidetic," meaning that she had a near photographic memory, such that if she learned a gesture in one position in the visual field and an instructor used that motion even very slightly off the original pattern, she could not process it or at least became very frustrated. Likewise, even looking in a mirror at herself performing gestures was maddening, since she, too, could not consistently move her hands in precisely the same track.

That encounter was a game changer. Within 6 months the EHIEP methodology had been changed substantially.

Since then we have encountered any number of learners who appear to have had varying degrees of "REVEG" (Rui's extreme visual-eidetic "gift") or "ADAEBIP" (aversion to doing anything potentially embarrassing with your body in public!) What that means is that for them, whatever the underlying cause, being required to mimic with any degree of accuracy someone's gesture can be maddening, near-traumatic or impossible.

The solution, at least in part, has been "haptic"-- to use touch to anchor the patterns to the relatively same locations in the visual field--along with anchoring the stressed syllable of a targeted word or phrase at the same time with touch. In addition, instead of the sometimes "wild and crazy" or "over the top," spontaneous gesturing used by some instructors, the idea is now to use highly controlled, systematic, "tasteful" and regular movements for pointing out, noticing and anchoring, and homework.

In fact, one of the advantages of using video models in EHIEP (as in AHEPS, v3.0) is that at least the patterns students are trained on are consistent. In that way, when a pattern (what we call a "pedagogical movement pattern) is used later in working on "targets of opportunity," such as modelling and correction, learners tend to be more accepting of the instructor's slight deviations from the "standard" locations.

In general, haptic anchoring of patterns (PMPs) tends to keep positions of prescribed gestures within range even for the more REVEG among us. Extreme accuracy in actually producing the PMPs in practice and anchoring is really not that critical for the individual learner.

So, if gesture work is still not in within your perceptual or comfort zone, we may have a (haptic) work-around for you. Keep in touch.

Association for Psychological Science. (2011, August 2). Monkey see, monkey do? The role of mirror neurons in human behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2014 from

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Seeing before believing: key to (haptic) pronunciation teaching

We call it "haptic pronunciation teaching." That is actually shorthand for something like:
simultaneous haptic-integration of visual-auditory-kinesthetic-tactile modalities in anchoring pronunciation

Almost every functional system for teaching pronunciation includes graphics or videos of some kind, even if it just a black and while line drawing of the mouth. Some substitute extensive written or verbal explanation for visual models. Our basic approach has been to use touch to link the senses, but often without too much concern for the precise order in which learner attention is directed through the various sources of information on the sound.

A fascinating new study on sensory sequencing in dance instruction by Blitz from Bielefeld University reported in Science Daily (see complete reference below) suggests that our real time sequencing in training in the use of pedagogical movement patterns (gesture, plus touch) is probably much more critical than we have assumed. That is especially relevant to how we (hapticians) maintain attention in the process. In other words, in the classroom, in what order do we introduce and train learners to the parameters of sounds and sound processes? That is, of course, equally relevant to all teaching!

NOTE: Please accept for the moment the parallel between dance instruction and our haptic work, that is training learners to experience, through gesture/touch and placement in the visual field, L2 or L1 sounds associated with targeted words. Also, allow me to side step the question of whether dancers are, by nature probably a bit "hyper-kinesthetic!"  

The study discovered that first viewing a dance sequence without verbal explanation or instruction--and then hearing or reading instructions after that was significantly more effective than the converse in long term memory for the sequence. Both visual and "cognitive" sources were present but the order was the critical variable. The subjects were apparently free to repeat both the visual and verbal inputs a limited number of times, but not to "mix" the ordering of them.

In other words, insight into what had been experienced was far more effective than was verbal cognitive schema in setting up and productively exploiting the visual experience or model to come. For us, the pedagogical implications are relatively clear, something like: (1) Observation (video clip) then (2) brief verbal explanation, then (3) experiential training in doing the gestural pattern, then (4) practice, along with (5) focused explanation of the context of the targeted sound.

How might that perspective impact your (pronunciation) teaching?

AMPISys, Inc.

See what I mean?

Full reference: Bielefeld University. "Best sensory experience for learning a dance sequence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2014. .

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Research supporting haptic pronunciation teaching

 New Book!

Jones, T., Ed. (2016). Pronunciation in the classroom: The overlooked essential. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Was recently asked for a summary of research supporting haptic pronunciation teaching. I am working on an article that will present the case. Here is the current working outline with research studies indicated. Other than a number of studies "proving" that pronunciation teaching, in general, seems to "work," the theory and research that specifically supports haptic work is somewhat indirect--but pretty compelling when you see the complete picture.

 It runs something like this. For complete references for those studies listed below and others, go to this page:

General theory on embodiment
  • Embodiment is critical to 2LA (Holme, 2012)
  • The body as an instrument for change of voice and persona (Lessac, 1984 and 1997)
  • Haptic cinema (Marks, 2012)
  • Gesture and language are tightly interrelated (Kendon, 2004)
  • Mirror neurons and learning movement (Simpson, 2008)
  • Gesture observed enhances learning (Wagner et al., 2013)
  • Gesture use enhances speaking  (Beliah, 2013)
Gesture in second language learning
  • Gesture supports second language learning in several ways (McCafferty, 2006)
  • Gesture enhances second language learning (Macedonia et al, 2012)
  • Gesture  is closely related to prosodics (rhythm, stress and intonation) in L1 and L2 acquisition (McCafferty, 2004)
  • Gesture and grammar (Churchill et al., 2013)
  • Touch serves to bond the senses together (Fredembach, et al, 2009).
  • Touch influences/manages memory for events (Propper, et al., 2013)
  • Touch is remembered through movement, sound and visual images (Charite, 2011)
  • Intensity of touch determined by intentions/set up (Gray, 2013)
  • Tactile Metaphors (Lacy et al., 2012)
  • Binding of movement, sound and touch (Legarde, J. and Kelso, J., 2006)
  • The nature of haptics (Harris, 2013)
  • Haptic technology (Kuchenbecker, 2012)
  • Sense of touch technology (Umeå universitet, 2012)
Gesture and haptics in teaching
  • Haptics in education (Minogue et al., 2006)
  • Gesture widely used in phonetics and L2 pronunciation teaching (Wrembel, et al., 2011)
  • Gesture use in second language teaching (Hudson, 2011)
Experiential models and reports
  • Acton (2014) 
  • Acton (2001)
  • Acton (1994)
  • Acton (1984)
  • Acton, W., et al., (2013)
  • Teaman, B., et al., (2013)
  • Burri (2015)
  • Kielstra and Acton (in press)
  • Burri, Baker and Acton (2016)

Monday, November 17, 2014

The music of pronunciation teaching?

Do you play background music in class, especially when working on pronunciation? I have for years used highly regular, rhythmic music during haptic training--for several purposes. Primarily, however, the idea has been to help coordinate learner bodies with sound patterns, not at all different in spirit from techniques such "Jazz Chants." I did experiment briefly with background (classical) music during my "Suggestopediac" period back in the 80s.

Now comes research using jazz to enhance the ultimate test of fine motor control: putting. In a summary of the research by Baghurst et al.  by Science Daily (since I can't access the original research in the Journal of Athletic Enhancement--one of my favourites) entitled: "The Influence of Musical Genres on Putting Accuracy in Golf: An Exploratory Study," listening to jazz significantly improved putting. 

Quoting one of the authors of the study (Boolani):
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"Other research has shown that country music improves batting, rap music improves jump shots and running is improved by any up-temp music. But the benefit of music in fine motor control situations was relatively unknown. Hopefully, this is the first step in answering this question."

We are unquestionably "fine motor" practitioners. This has got to work for us, too.

Unfortunately, although I always use music (mostly rock, pop and country) when running, I'm simply not a jazz aficionado. I am, however,  definitely up for trying jazz in haptic pronunciation work. Any recommendations? Could use both up-tempo and understated, instrumental selections. 

Science Daily citation:
Clarkson University. "Want to improve your putt? Try listening to jazz."  ScienceDaily, 12 November 2014.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Haptic-pronunciation-assisted vocabulary teaching

New book chapter in the TESOL "New Ways" series by Michael Burri (Wollongong University) on using haptic pronunciation anchoring in teaching vocabulary. (Burri is probably the second-best haptician I have ever worked with!) His doctoral study on pronunciation teacher cognition includes for the first time examination of teacher response to haptic pronunciation teaching.

We have just begun to work systematically with using the haptic pronunciation protocols for enhancing memory and recall of vocabulary. All 10 of the basic techniques of AHEPS v3.0 could be used for that. The one that Burri uses in that chapter, based on the AHEPS Rough/short vowel pedagogical movement pattern, is especially effective, putting a strong haptic anchor (touch of both hands) on the vowel in the stressed syllable of a word or phrase.
Credit: TESOL

Keep in touch!

Full citation:
Burri, M. (2014). Haptic-assisted vocabulary and pronunciation teaching technique. In A. Coxhead (Ed.), New ways in teaching vocabulary (2nd ed.). (pp.189-191). Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

20 contexts for haptic pronunciation teaching

I am often asked in what contexts or classrooms haptic pronunciation teaching works. Assuming enthusiastic, full-body buy-in by the instructor and student, here is a new list of contexts and
Credit: Anna Shaw
where features of the AHEPS - haptic pronunciation system are being or have been used so far.

Keep in touch!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Workshop on stressing and de-stressing unstressed vowels: the haptic “thumb-flick” technique

On the 22nd of November at the local BCTEAL regional conference, I'll be doing a new haptic workshop on unstressed vowels, with Aihua Liu of Harbin Institute of Technology and Jean Jeon, a graduate student her at Trinity Western University. You can see an introduction to the technique here.

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This participatory, experiential session presents a haptic (gesture + touch) procedure for helping learners produce and better “hear” unstressed vowels in English. In essence, as words are articulated, learners touch hands at specific points in the visual field on stressed vowels and “flick their thumbs” on the unstressed vowels.

Working with unstressed vowels in English is often neglected. The problem is often “solved” by avoiding the issue entirely or by emphasizing suprasegmentals (rhythm, stress and intonation) which, research suggests, do indeed help to determine the prominence of unstressed syllables to some extent. In addition, there may be some limited, indirect attention to unstressed vowels in oral practice of reduced forms, especially in fixed phrases (e.g., “salt ‘n pepper) and idioms.

Research has recently demonstrated that disproportionate attention to suprasegmentals (rhythm, stress and intonation) without a balanced, production-oriented treatment of key segmentals (vowels and consonants) may be very counter-productive, undermining intelligibility substantially. That is especially the case with learners whose L1 is Vietnamese, for example.

This technique helps to address that issue by facilitating more appropriate, controlled focus on the vowel quality in unstressed syllables.  It involves the use of two types of pedagogical gestures, one that adds additional attention to the stressed vowel of the word and a second that helps learners to better approximate the target sound and maintain the basic syllabic structure of the word.

The session is experiential and highly participatory. Participants are provided materials and links to videos demonstrating the technique.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Haptic Pronunciation Teaching - AHEPS v3.0 - is LIVE!

Delighted to announce that Acton Haptic English Pronunciation System (AHEPS) v3.0 "Bees and Butterflies" (Serious fun) - The best, fastest, most moving and touching way to improve English pronunciation - is now available!

The best, fastest, most moving
and touching way
to improve English pronunciation
Best deal is one of the introductory packages:

Complete v3.0 package: Includes Guide Book (hardcopy and PDF--with permission to make up to 30 copies), Instructor Notes (hardcopy and PDF), Instructor DVD, Student Practice DVD, 6 months of unlimited streaming of all videos and 2, 30-mniute SKYPE consultation ($300, plus shipping)

Complete v3.0 package - Lite: Includes Guide Book (PDF download-with permission to make up to 30 copies), Instructor Notes (PDF), 6 months of streaming of all videos and 30-minute SKYPE consultation ($150)

The complete listing of packages, modules and individual parts is available here!

For further information check out this description of v3.0 or email:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The best, fastest, most moving and touching way to improve English pronunciation! (AHEPS v3.0 Previews)

These videos are still a work in progress but will give you a pretty good idea of what each module of Acton Haptic English Pronunciation System v3.0 - Bees and Butterflies (Serious fun!) is about. (AHEPS is, of course, just about the ONLY moving and touching pronunciation system around!)
AHEPS v3.0 Bees and Butterflies
(Serious fun - really!) 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meta-pronunciation: Just do it!

Nice post by Wilson and Conyers on Edutopia blog looking at teaching metacognitive skills to kids. (Some of the links off the post are good as well.) So how does that relate to haptic pronunciation teaching (HPT)? Pretty directly as a matter of fact. They give 5 general principles:

1. "Explicitly teach students about this essential learning skill by defining the term metacognition." (Basically, managing or "driving" your brain in their terms!)
HPT principle: Learn to control attention during haptic work and manage homework and practice effectively. (See previous posts on "mindfulness.")

2. "Ask students to describe the benefits and supply examples of driving their brains well."
HPT principle: Explicitly work with students on their strategies for "brain control" during pronunciation work and other subjects and follow up with some kind of written, reflective journaling to assist them in using their time efficiently.

3. "Whenever possible, let students choose what they want to read and topics they want to learn more about."
HPT principle: Students must quickly begin finding more words and phrases on which to practice, as well as writing them down consistently during class work.

4. "Look for opportunities to discuss and apply metacognition across core subjects . . ."
HPT principle: The HPT strategies, called pedagogical movement patterns, should be used in all classes for correction, modelling and feedback.

5. "Model metacognition by talking through problems."
AHEPS v2.0
HPT principle: One key feature of HPT is that the new or changed sound pattern must be anchored immediately to an exemplar, a word or phrase:
(a) That word or phrase should be annotated at least by identifying the vowel number on the stressed syllable,
(b) probably while looking at the graphic representation of the word (as it is written in type-form.) In some cases,
(c) the phonetic representation should accompany that. Finally,
(d) instructor and student together should practice the exemplar together (ideally 3 times) with rich vocal resonance out loud, accompanied by a pedagogical movement pattern (one of 10 or 12 in the system.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Haptic pronunciation teaching workshop at TESOL 2015 in Toronto!

For the 8th year in row, a haptic pronunciation teaching workshop has been accepted for presentation at the TESOL conference in Toronto, March 25th ~ 28th, 2015. Below is the program summary and excerpts from the proposal. We'll also have a "gathering of hapticians" at the conference, as usual. Join us! 

Program summary

This workshop introduces a set of six haptic (movement + touch)-based techniques for presenting and correcting English L2 pronunciation, applicable for intermediate English language learners and above. Guided by research on kinaesthetic approaches to L2 pronunciation instruction, the presenters train participants to use the instructional techniques in their classrooms.
Participants learn a multiple-modality system, designed to be used throughout the curriculum—not just in stand-alone pronunciation classes. The workshop is predominantly experiential, where a set of six haptic techniques are introduced and practiced in break-out micro-teaching sessions. The sections of the workshop are:

A. Principles of haptic integration
B. Haptic anchoring vowels and word stress
C. Haptic anchoring phrasal stress and rhythm
D. Haptic anchoring of basic intonation contours
E. Haptic anchoring of general fluency

This haptic-based system for pronunciation instruction was formed under the premise that, while our general understanding of L2 phonological development has increased substantially, most methodologists would concur that preparing a new EFL/ESL instructor adequately for pronunciation work remains a challenge. The reason for this, in part, is that there is currently no easily accessible, comprehensive model that integrates pronunciation instruction in general speaking and listening instruction. 

The perspective of this workshop is that systematic use of body movement, especially using haptic anchoring (touch tied to pedagogical movement and gesture) is essential to that synthesis. The techniques presented are designed to be integrated into either general or specific pronunciation instruction whenever use of a problematic sound pattern occurs.

The theoretical basis of this approach is derived principally from four sources: (a) the voice and stage movement work of Lessac (Lesssac,1967), (b) Embodiment theory (Holme, 2012) as applied to TESOL, (c) current neuro-physiological research on the role of movement and touch in learning in general (Minogue & Jones, 2006) and of sound systems in particular (Acton, 2012), and (d) kinaesthetic approaches to L2 pronunciation instruction (e.g., Acton 1984).

By the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to use the haptic pronunciation integration techniques in their classrooms.
AHEPS v3.0 "Bees and Butterflies"
(Serious fun!)
The best, fastest, most moving
 and touching way to teach,
learn and correct English pronunciation!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hot Haptic pronunciation teaching topics for upcoming conference proposals!

Here in Vancouver we are getting ready to collaborate as usual in writing haptic proposals for a couple of upcoming conferences. Here is our current list, most of which are new or emerging topics for us:
  • Introducing AH-EPS v3.0 Bees and Butterflies (Serious fun!) 
  • A haptic approach to teaching West Coast, BC pronunciation to others! 
  • Workshop in basics of haptic pronunciation teaching
  • Teaching conversational discourse orientation (the skills involved in matching the prosodics of your speech to that of the person you are talking with) 
  • Embodied Confident speaking practice (The Fight club) for nonnative non-male professionals of Asian ethnicity only
  • 10 warm ups for pronunciation and speaking instruction
  • Stressing unstressed vowels
  • Going from L1 to L2 pronunciation: Using the L1 vowel system as a point of departure
  • Giving voice to voiced medial and final consonants 
  • Moving conversations: the haptic talk-about walkabout (peripatetic attending skills)
There was an earlier post (March, 2014) this spring as we were cranking up for TESOL international proposals that had a few others:
  • Reports from the classroom: Haptic pronunciation teaching (academic sessions)
  • Research project on haptic-assisted fluency (paper)
  • Haptic-assisted Rhythm instruction (Butterfly and Fight club) workshop
  • Haptic phonetics (anchoring L1s in addition of L2s) demonstration
  • Haptic techniques for consonant repair (workshop)
  • (Haptic-enhanced) Embodied confidence (Research paper)
  • Haptically anchoring word stress rules and word stress (workshop)
  • Linking linking with fluency: haptic circles (mini-workshop)
  • Basics of haptic-integrated pronunciation teaching 
  • From intonation to expressiveness: dramatic, haptic bridges for Non-native speakers
  • Haptic and kinaesthetic listening (Research paper)
  • On the spot, impromptu haptic pronunciation modelling, feedback and correction 
  • Haptic anchoring of Academic Word List vocabulary (demonstration or workshop)
  • Sentence diagramming with movement and touch 
  • Songs that touch on pronunciation: haptic anchoring of rhyme and reason (workshop)
  • Teaching pronunciation to young children (workshop)
  • Embodied conversational discourse markers (demonstration)
  • Phonics "a la haptique!" (demonstration or workshop)
  • Haptic Handwriting for L2 English learners (demonstration)
  • Embodied conversational listening: haptic anchoring of attending skills
  • Haptic or kinaesthetic self-monitoring
Several of those or adaptations of them were submitted to three upcoming conferences. See any you like? If a proposal was done, I can probably get that to you. If not, how about you join one of us in submitting one for a conference you are planning to attend? 

Keep in touch!

Monday, September 8, 2014

More than a gesture: When to use gesture in L2 teaching

Should you still need more convincing as to the value and contribution of gesture in L2 learning and instruction, the September 2014 issue of The Modern Language Journal (98) has two excellent,  complementary articles that you should read, one by Dahl and Ludvigsen on the effect of gesture on listening comprehension and a second, by Morett, on gesture as a "cognitive aid" during speaking production and communication. (See full references below.)

The first study examines how observing gesture complements comprehension; the second then demonstrates how actually producing the gesture as you learn and then communicate with a new L2 term in the early stages of the process results in more effective acquisition, retention and recall. 

The learner populations involved are quite different, as are the research methodologies, but the two studies together contribute substantially to our understanding of how and when gesture works. (You'll have to access them through your library online or shell out the usual 5-6 Vente Carmel Frap equivalents for each, of course--but it may be worth it in this case.) There is also an earlier (free, accessible online) 2012 paper by Morett, Gibbs and McWhinney, The Role of Gesture in Second Language Learning: Communication, Acquisition, & Retention, that lays out the theoretical background for the new study as well.

One striking (but not surprising) finding of the Morett study is that using a gesture while speaking and communicating results in better acquisition than just observing the gesture being used by someone else. The other study examines the conditions under which seeing gesture performed functions best. 

AH-EPS v3.0
The bottom line: Systematic incorporation of gesture in (at least initial) L2 learning is again shown to be exceedingly effective. It must be carefully timed and linked to meaning, but the results of both studies are very persuasive. Another good example of that, of course, is AH-EPS v3.0 Bees and Butterflies - Serious fun! (Which rolls out this month, in fact!) 

Full references:
Dahl, T. and Ludvigsen, S. (2014). How I See What You're Saying: The Role of Gestures in Native and Foreign Language Listening Comprehension The Modern Language Journal, 98, 3, (2014), pp. 813–833.
Morett, L. (2014) When Hands Speak Louder Than Words: The Role of Gesture in the Communication, Encoding, and Recall of Words in a Novel Second Language, The Modern Language Journal, 98, 3, (2014), pp. 834–853.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Improve L2 pronunciation-- with or without lifting a finger!

Clip art: Clker
Listen to this! (You may even want to sit down before you do!) New study showing how movement can affect listening by Mooney and colleagues at Duke University, summarized by Science Daily. Here's the summary:

"When we want to listen carefully to someone, the first thing we do is stop talking. The second thing we do is stop moving altogether. The interplay between movement and hearing has a counterpart deep in the brain. A new study used optogenetics to reveal exactly how the motor cortex, which controls movement, can tweak the volume control in the auditory cortex, which interprets sound."

Now, granted, the study was done on mice who probably have some other stuff going on down there in their motor cortices as well. Nonetheless, the striking insight into the underlying relationship between movement and volume control on our auditory input circuits is enough to give us (an encouraging) "pause . . . " in two senses:

First, learning new pronunciation begins with aural comprehension, being able to "hear" the sound distinctions. We have played with the idea of having learners gesture along with instructor models while listening. The study suggests that may not be as effective as we thought, or at least the conditions that we set up have to be more sensitive to "volume" and ambient static. You can see the implications for aural comprehension work in general as well. 

Second, during early speaking production in haptic pronunciation instruction, being able to temporarily  suppress auditory input (coming in through the ears) is seen as essential. Following Lessac and many others in speech and voice training, what we are after initially is focus on vocal resonance in the upper body and kinaesthetic awareness of the gestural patterns, what we call "pedagogical movement patterns" or PMPs. 

We do that, in part, to dampen (i.e., turn down the volume) on how the learner's production is perceived initially, filtered through the L1 or personal interlanguage versions, trying to focus instead on the core of the sound(s), approximations, not absolute accuracy. Some estimates of our awareness of our own voice suggest that it is less than 25% auditory, that is coming in through the air to our ears, the rest being body-based, or somatic. 

What we hear should be moving, not what we hear with apparently! 

SCID citation: Duke University. "Stop and listen: Study shows how movement affects hearing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2014 .

Friday, August 22, 2014

Providing pronunciation teaching with signs (and wonders!) and a hand!

More fascinating research on the role of gesture in learning from Goldin-Meadow at the University of Chicago, summarized by Science Daily. The research in part looked at "homesign-ing," that is systems created by children not introduced to the standard signing system of the language or culture. One conclusion of the study:
". . . gesture cannot aid learners simply by providing a second modality. Rather, gesture adds imagery to the categorical distinctions that form the core of both spoken and sign languages."

That research also sheds light on the function of the pedagogical movement patterns (PMPs) of haptic pronunciation teaching work as well. (Several of the gestural patterns closely resemble signs used in American Sign Language, and early development of the system was informed and inspired by ASL, in fact.)

One of the more interesting parallels is the fact that ASL signs of high emotional intensity more often tend to terminate in touch--as do all PMPs. A second is that the PMPs of EHIEP (Essential haptic-integrated English Pronunciation), for the most part, present vivid visual pictures that are learned and recalled easily. If you'd like to learn more, just join us next month in Costa Rica!

Citation: University of Chicago. "Hand gestures improve learning in both signers, speakers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2014. .