Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why haptic (pronunciation) teaching and learning should be superior!

Wow. How about this "multi-sensory" conclusion from Max-Planck-Gesellschaft researchers Mayer, Yildiz, Macedonia, and von Kriegstein, Visual and motor cortices differentially support the translation of foreign language words (full citation below)--summarized by Science daily (boldface added for emphasis) :

"The motor system in the brain appears to be especially important: When someone not only hears vocabulary in a foreign language, but expresses it using gestures, they will be more likely to remember it. Also helpful, although to a slightly lesser extent, is learning with images that correspond to the word. Learning methods that involve several senses, and in particular those that use gestures, are therefore superior to those based only on listening or reading."

The basic "tools" of haptic pronunciation teaching, what we call "pedagogical movement patterns," are defined as follows:

As a word or phrase is visualized (visual) and spoken with resonant voice, a gesture moving across the visual field is preformed which culminates in hands touching on the stressed syllable of the word or phrase (cognitive/linguistic), as the sound of the word is experienced as articulatory muscle movement in the upper body and by vibrations in the body emanating from the vocal cords and (to some degree) sound waves returning to the ears (auditory). 

And what bonds that all together? A 2009 study by Fredembach,et al demonstrated just how haptic anchoring--and the PMP should work: in relative terms, the major contribution of touch may generally be exploratory and assembling of multi-sensory experiences. The key is to do as much as possible to ensure that learners keep as many senses in play during "teachable moments" when new word-sound complexes are being encountered and learned. 

Make sense? Keep in touch!

Fredembach, B., Boisferon, A. & Gentaz, E. (2009) Learning of arbitrary association between visual and auditory novel stimuli in adults: The “Bond Effect” of haptic exploration. PLoS ONE, 2009, 4(3), 13-20.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2015, February 5). Learning with all the senses: Movement, images facilitate vocabulary learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 7, 2015 from

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