Wednesday, December 6, 2017

OLOA! Pronunciation Teaching Lagniappe!
When the "oral reading baby" was for a time tossed out with the structuralist reading and pronunciation teaching "bath", a valuable resource was temporarily mislaid. New research by Forrin and MacLeod of Waterloo University confirms what common sense tells us: that reading a text aloud or even verbalizing something that you need to remember (get ready!) actually may help. Really? In that study the "production effect" was quite significant. From the Science Daily summary:

"The study tested four methods for learning written information, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud in real time. Results from tests with 95 participants showed that the production effect of reading information aloud to yourself resulted in the best remembering . . . And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory."

There have been any number of blogposts here advocating the use of oral reading in pronunciation teaching, but this is one argument that I had not encountered or was not all that interested in, in part because I had an Aunt who read and thought aloud constantly and very "irritatingly"! (And who, it appears not incidentally, had a  phenomenal memory for detail.) You may well have an aunt or associate who uses the same often socially dysfunctional memory heuristic.

One often unrecognized source of lagniappe (bonus) from attention to pronunciation, especially in the form of oral reading in class or as personalized homework, is this production effect, which is the actual focus of the study: any number of actions or physical movement may contribute to memory for language material. The text being verbalized still has to be "meaningful" in some sense, according to the study. In haptic work we use the acronym OLOA (out loud oral anchoring), targeted elements of speech accompanied by gesture and touch. 

That can happen any time in instruction, of course, but the precise conditions for it being effective are interesting and worth exploring. One of the procedures I have frequently set up in teaching observations is analyzing the extent and quality of OLOA (In Samoan: one's labor, skill or possessions!) See if you can remember to use more of that intentionally next week in class and observe what happens. (If not, try a little OLOA on this blogpost!)

University of Waterloo. (2017, December 1). Reading information aloud to yourself improves memory of materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 6, 2017 from

1 comment: