Saturday, January 16, 2016

Can't stand teaching pronunciation? You should reconsider!

When you work with pronunciation, how often do you have students on their feet? In both general education and business the benefits of "thinking on your feet" (literally) is well-established. (I'm doing this blogpost, as usual, standing in the kitchen next to the coffee maker!) A new study by Mehta, Shortz and Benden of Texas A&M University, summarized by Science Daily, seems to establish for the first time the specific "neuro-cognitive" basis of that effect.

Based on students' preferences, they were assigned to use standing desks during the experimental study. According to the authors, quoted by Science Daily:

"Test results indicated that continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities," Mehta said. "Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed."

 Wow! That almost deserves a standing ovation! On the blog in the past I've reported on a number of studies that demonstrate the cognitive benefits of exercise on learning and memory and the corresponding enhancement of attitude and motivation that getting students up and moving around produces.

AMPISys, Inc.
In the classroom application of haptic pronunciation teaching (and STRONGLY recommended for haptic independent study) virtually ALL initial training in the core pedagogical movement patterns is done with students on their feet, typically mirroring the the model on the LCD screen at the front of the room. (To preview those, go here.)

Even if your school is not set up with stand up desks, you can at least get students on their feet occasionally, not just for pronunciation but almost any in-class activity (as I'm sure many of you do already.) One of my all time favorites is the "Talkaboutwalkabout!" in fact.

Full citation:
Texas A&M University. "New study indicates students' cognitive functioning improves when using standing desks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2016. .

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