Saturday, May 27, 2017

The "wrong" way to get pronunciation teaching right!
If you don't get the James Clear newsletter already, go sign up for it, or at least read his latest piece on "inversion": Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You.  Inversion, or "envisioning the negative things that could happen in life" is not a popular strategy today for any number reasons. People who dwell on the downside may not be all that welcome in any social or professional context, but, as Clear demonstrates, used appropriately such "thinking out of the box" processes such as "If we wanted to kill the company or the program, how might we do that?" often reveal unique and innovative solutions. He gives a number of famous examples. 

I recently experimented with that heuristic on my own model, method and business plan with some striking results and . . . revelations. I had earlier worked with an executive coach for about 6 months  and "inversion" would have been absolutely anathema to that process: Think positive; visualize positive goals and outcomes; consider effective strategies and moves going forward. But what if I, instead, had focused in on the consequences of NOT staying  goal-oriented and upbeat? Actually, I might be further along than I am now . . .

Just for a fun thought experiment, try out questions such as these on your own program, course, system or method:

How could I . . .  
  • Provide useless or pointless advice on self correction or self-instruction of pronunciation?
  • Disconnect student's from their bodies in pronunciation work?
  • Undermine students' development of intelligibility or accuracy?
  • Help students develop a deep distrust and aversion to an English or English dialect spoken by any other group? 
  • Establish impossible targets of perfection for learners?
  • Create enough emotional tension or distraction in the room to seriously interfere with students "uptaking" pronunciation instruction?
  • Make sure that students don't do pronunciation homework? 
  • Arrange student groups to discourage constructive collaborative work? 
  • Use correction to badger, berate or bully students? 
  • Seriously mess with learners' identities in teaching pronunciation? 
  • Make pronunciation instruction as boring as possible? 
  • Make students think their pronunciation is better than it is? 
  • Successfully ignore attention to pronunciation entirely? 
  • Talk more about pronunciation than actually do anything with it? 
  • Be an awful model for my students?
  • Teach pronunciation without any training in it?
  • Teach pronunciation without using phonetic symbols? 
  • Encourage students to go to some "Miracle Accent Reduction" website instead of working with me?. 
  • Make students think their accent is bad or could not use a little enhancement
 Based on that exercise, I have made some important changes in how v5.0 of the haptic pronunciation system will look when it rolls out. Now I just have to work through what will happen if that doesn't work, of course!

 Please feel free to add to the list in the comment section!



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