Thursday, April 27, 2017

"De feet" - a new, winning (haptic) strategy for teaching English rhythm
Alert: This post is best read while standing barefoot with some of your favorite dance music in the background or while walking or jogging to it. New research by Greene and colleagues at New Mexico Highlands University summarized by Science Daily, demonstrates just how you can ensure that your brain is really "pumped" about what follows.

Next Friday morning (at 8:30 A.M. no less!) at the annual BCTEAL (British Columbia) conference in Vancouver, we'll be rolling out the new v5.0 version of the "Rhythmic Feet Fight Club". If you are new to haptic pronunciation teaching here is the 2009 version and here is the 2013 version.

If you are new to what the rhythmic feet of English are about, here is a (somewhat technical) but nice set of slides by Goldstein at USC or this straightforward one from a "handbook" at Emory University. "Feet" are,  in essence, groups of syllables that determine the flow of English speech, each grouping having one (stronger) stressed syllable that creates foregrounding or focus in that grouping.

There are hundreds of techniques on the web that use something like dance, where one foot or the other lands on stressed syllables of words or phrases; some, such as Jazz Chants, that have learners clapping hands while they do. v5.0 is a bit like that. Haptically, along with the feet touching the floor, the hands either squeeze something or rhythmically (in boxing gloves) hammer at the boxing gloves of another learner, as in the (relatively "foot-loose") 2009 version above.

What is "new" in v5.0 is the explicit (fun) inclusion of light, enthusiastic foot stomping--while doing something like shadow boxing--on stressed syllables of rhythmic feet. (We'll post a video of that session next week.) I realize that sounds a bit too "full body" and cognitively complicated for 8:30 a.m., but it is actually quite easy to master, as long as you carefully ramp up with each of the "body parts" involved as you do.

Before I take off the gloves, in fact, I'm going to have a serious, f2f "conversation" with the conference scheduler who put us (Shine Hong and myself) in that pre-conscious-pre-coffee early presentation slot. (It should be a "knock out" of a session, nonetheless!)

Join us.

Key citation:
Experimental Biology 2017. (2017, April 24). How walking benefits the brain: Researchers show that foot's impact helps control, increase the amount of blood sent to the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2017 from

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