Sunday, July 10, 2016

A "reptilian brain" approach to pronunciation teaching (What Haskel says neuroscience says!)
Fun, superficial, slightly funky 2015 blogpost by Haskel at on marketing, appealing to the "Reptilian brain". "Appeal to neuroscience" (what was formally called "brain research") has now become one of the favorite foils of both educators and comedians. A recently discovered "bug" in the use of fMRIs may cast some additional, welcome doubt on that, in fact.  No matter what you want to "sell" . . . there seems to be some neuroscientist's often pseudo-scientific research study to back you up.

Haskel identifies 7 findings of neuroscience that suggest how to market anything (even your pronunciation teaching, I assume!) as long as you aim your pitch right at your students' "reptilian brains": pain, selfishness, contrast, tangibility, beginning and endings, visual metaphors, and "strike an emotional chord".
A. Pain - "All native speakers hate you because of your pronunciation or accent! Shed it!"
B. Selfishness - "Your accent is your identity, your inner Komodo. Next time somebody criticizes it, just tell them to be more multicultural and get over it!"
C. Contrast - "Have a good snake as a model: Justin Trudeau, David Cameron, Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama--take your pick."
D. Tangibility - "You do these tongue twisters long enough, they'll fix anything--including your lizard-like sun-tanned appearance."
E. Beginning and end - "Imagine your pronunciation now and how it will sound at the end of this course. Fill your mind with new sounds . . . Channel your inner cameleon (See C!)"
F. Visual metaphor - "Watch this CT-scan of me pronouncing 'th' several times tonight, especially my darting tongue." 
G. Strike an emotional chord - "All those notes in the book and in research about how hard it is to change your pronunciation are just a crock! You can do this!"

Coming soon: A pre-frontal (brain) peon to Teacher Cognition research in pronunciation teaching.

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