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:

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