Saturday, April 23, 2016

New (haptic) Rhythm Fight Club at BCTEAL 2016: Why haptic works better . . .

Photo credit:
Next Saturday, at Simon Fraser University, at 11:45 at the BCTEAL conference, Shine Hong and I will be doing a 45 minute mini-workshop on the new version of the Haptic Rhythm Fight Club. The HRFC, introduced in 2013, has "evolved" considerably since.

Murphy (2013;38) describes the typical use of "boxing-like" gestures in pronunciation teaching as follows: ". . . while using nonthreatening boxing moves, gently sparring with partners to coordinate simulated jabs with stressed syllables of prominent words."

On the face of it, the HRFC looks like that. In its early development, before 2013 it was in many respects. The current version is substantially different, however, for at least three reasons.
  • First, the boxing gestures are intended primarily for personal use, not in sparring with a partner--although we still do that occasionally in demonstrations just for fun, as we will next week. 
  • Second, The HRFC gestural patterns are highly controlled, moving within narrow "channels" in the air in front of the learners, such that the energy of the "punches" is focused, never out of control. 
  • Third, something must be held in the hand that creates the tactile anchoring very distinctly, that can be squeezed on the stressed syllable word or words spoken during the boxing gesture. That can be a ball of some kind, a wadded up piece of paper, a glove, etc. 
As noted in any number of previous posts here, in general, the indiscriminate use of gesture in pronunciation or language teaching is pretty much a wash (can have both strong positive and negative affects). Although it can be quite motivating and "fun", for learners, in many cultures it is at best a turn off, at worst personally very invasive. In addition, research in kinesic and haptic learning has long established the fact that just because a gesture or movement accompanies a spoken phrase or visual focus does not mean that the location of the stressed element will automatically be recalled later. In fact, a "wild" gesture may do more to disguise the location of that key focus by drawing attention instead to anything else that is happening simultaneously. More is required.

Controlled gestures, on the other hand, with discrete touch on the focal syllable do much to deal with such "distraction" and make the classroom and personal practice of gesture use more acceptable to a wider range of personality styles and preferences. That has certainly been our experience in the last 4 years.

If you are in town, join us Saturday, either in the workshop or at the TWU MATESOL table in the exhibition area.

Keep in touch!

Friday, April 22, 2016

20 Ideas for TESOL 2017 haptic pronunciation teaching proposals!

Time for doing proposals for TESOL 2017! The deadline is June 1st. If you are interested in being on a team that does a workshop, poster session, demonstration or paper, please let us know. We almost always work with teams of 2 or more and invite those who are not trained hapticians but want to be to sign on to a proposal. With the new v4.0 Haptic pronunciation teacher training program (out soon) you can be quite up to speed by next March!

Hopefully, we'll also have a booth this coming year for the first time to promote v4.0. (With that comes a couple of Exhibitor's sessions on the program as well.) Here are some of the proposal ideas we have been discussing of have presented or published on earlier. A formal proposal could, of course, be a combination of topics with a haptic "core"!
HaPT-E v4.0 -Serious Fun!
  1. Pre-convention institute or workshop on haptic pronunciation teaching
  2. Spontaneous and incidental correction (using haptic techniques)
  3. Haptic teacher training certification course
  4. Haptic phonetics (working on that one already)
  5. Haptic techniques for vocabulary development
  6. Haptic homework (working on that one already)
  7. (Ch)oral reading (haptic-anchored) 
  8. Changing fossilized pronunciation (haptically)
  9. Haptic consonant workshop (working on that one already)
  10. Contrastive (haptic) analyses (e.g., Chinese, Korean or major dialects)
  11. Fluency training (Rhythm Fight club)
  12. Haptic accent reduction techniques
  13. Haptic-anchored attending skills
  14. Haptic techniques for basic literacy training
  15. Haptic discourse strategies/markers
  16. Haptic phonics
  17. Brain Research on haptic learning
  18. Expressive (haptic) pronunciation teaching
  19. Haptic linking techniques
  20. Haptic techniques for vowel reduction, unstressed and secondary stressed vowels 
  21. Haptic-anchoring of online pronunciation instruction

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gesture the cause of pronunciation problems?

That's right! You should try it! Here's why . . .

 Referring to ways in which learners' L1s differs from their L2s is generally not a priority in pronunciation teaching--or in general language instruction. In some contexts, however, especially EFL-like courses where phonetics or translation serve as the point of departure, the structure of the L1 may be among the early topics addressed. For a number of reasons, nonetheless, many contemporary methodologists avoid it. A quick, informal poll among colleagues recently came up with a nice range of opinion:

"Why confuse things?"
"Best avoided."
"Not that confident, myself."
"May cause even more interference."     

That last comment is interesting. Clearly, if not done carefully or well, that could be the case. So, how might you "do that well?" (If you have some suggestions in that regard, in addition to the one I am about to recommend, please post a comment w/it!)

In haptic pronunciation teaching, we often and very effectively lead learners across "gestural bridges" between L1 and L2 phonological elements, such as individual sounds (vowels and consonants), rhythm patterns and tone movement (intonation). We do that by having learners mirror us or a video  as they perform "pedagogical movement patterns" (PMPs),  gestures synchronized speaking, that represent both the L1 and L2 sounds or sound patterns--and often the relative distance between them--in the visual space in front of the learner. 

Recently published research by Carlson, Jacobs, Perry and Church in Gesture, The effect of gestured instruction on the learning of physical causality problems, suggests why the "contrastive haptic PMP approach" may work. (Now granted, the analogy between video instruction on how gears work and the relationship between how an L1 sound is physically articulated and that of its L2 near-equivalent--that may cause serious interference or negative transfer--may be something of a stretch! But stick with me here!)

In the study, subjects either viewed a video where the instructor (a) explained the process without gesturing or (b) the "speech plus gesture" protocol.  Their conclusion: 

"Results showed that . . .  instruction was . . .  significantly more effective when gesture was added. These findings shed light on the role of gesture input in adult learning and carry implications for how gesture may be utilized in asynchronous instruction with adults."

What the conclusion misses, but is unpacked in the article, is the potential importance of the nature of the concept being taught in the first place, as it says in the title: physical causality, meaning that the contact and motion of one  gear as it affected the state and movement of the other gear. In other words, the impact of the gestural protocol was so pronounced, in part, because it was portraying and embodying a physical process.

Studies of the connection of gesture to more abstract, far less embodied concepts such as interpretation of emotion or intent are much less consistent, understandably. Pronunciation of a language is, on the other hand, an essentially physical, somatic process. Hence, using gesture (and touch) to anchor it makes perfect sense. 

Just thought I'd point that out . .

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Haptic Pronunciation Teaching - v3.5 TESOL 2016 Special!

Even if you can't make it to Baltimore next week for the TESOL Convention for one of the demos, you can still get the AHEPS "TESOL special" version 3.5 for a limited time (until this September!)

Keep in touch!
Basic cost: $100 CAD for (copying authorized), 12 months unlimited streaming and (the BIG bonus) . . . a half hour SKYPE Chat w/me after you have tried some haptic with your students.  (DVD set is also available for $60 CAD, free shipping). For immediate purchase, go here! For hard copies and special orders, contact:

p.s. If you don't want to talk w/me, I'll knock of my "2 cents worth" from the price!