Monday, September 28, 2015

4 rituals for improving how students feel about their pronunciation


It is getting to the point now that whenever you need advice on all things related to feeling or doing better, your default is your local "neuroscientist".  A favorite venue of mine for such pop and entertaining council--other than Amy Farrah  Fowler on Big Bang Theory-- is In what is better read as simply "tongue-in-cheek", Eric Barker has a fun piece entitled, "4 rituals that will make you a happier person."

I recommend you read it, if only to get a good picture of where we are headed and how neuroscience is being hijacked by pop psychology, or vice versa . . . 

Those "rituals" are:
  • Ask why you feel down. (Once you identify the cause, your brain will automatically make you feel better.)
  • Label negative feelings.(That will relocate them in a part of the brain that generally doesn't mess with feelings.)
  • Make that decision. (As long as your brain is being managed by the executive center, you are in command and feeling powerful.)
  • Touch people. I have always been a fan of oxytocin. Touch, all kinds, including hugging generates it.  
Notice that the first three are not all that far off from the magician's (or psychologist's) basic technique of distracting the audience away from the trick--looking someplace else or looking at the problem through a lens or two to knock off or defuse the negative feelings. 

So, how might this work for changing pronunciation or at least taking on more positive attitudes toward it? For example (avoiding micro-aggressions to the extent possible):

Question: Why do you feel down?  
Answer: Your pronunciation is bad; not inferior, just bad.

Question: Why the negative feelings?
Answer: I have unrealistic expectations or you are a bad teacher.

Question: What decision should you make? 
Answer: Get in touch with my local "haptician" (who teaches pronunciation haptically) or consult my local neuroscientist so I can at least feel better about my pronunciation . . .

Question: How can I get in(to) touch?
Answer: Start here, of course!

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