Saturday, May 11, 2019

Resistance to effective (pronunciation) teaching
And another reason why good drill "works!"

If there is a bottom line to (at least haptic pronunciation) teaching, it is this: students (and to some extent, teachers) must practice regularly.  Countless studies,  in a wide range of disciplines, at least in north American culture, come to the same conclusion:  we must establish intrinsic motivation.  Eventually, somehow students have to come to the point where they really want or need to do it!  But how do you get there?

(Caveat trigger emptor warning: This post contains references to bodily functions of “older adults”!)

Whenever I have questions about motivation, I just go to the source: fitness trainers.  If you need to get in great shape, and have the cash, hire one.  You’ll get there much faster, and may wind up with intrinsic motivation to keep going. I say “may” because those trainers also have a vested interest in keeping you coming back for more. So, in general, they may not be too good at letting you go,  but, if you study their method, you can learn a lot. About a year ago I did that in prepping for a 10k.

A new study by Kekäläinen, Kokko, Tammelin, Sipilä and Walker. of University of Jyväskylä adds a neat piece to the puzzle. The title of the ScienceDaily summary summarizes the study well: Resistance training and exercise-motivation go hand-in-hand: Resistance training improves exercise motivation and contributes to making exercise planning among older adults. 

If you don’t lift weights, start tomorrow.

In essence, resistance training (weightlifting) as opposed to aerobic training (e.g., walking or dancing) added significantly more to motivation and meta-cognition (planning and persistence). And why should that be? I have a theory . . . . Once you get into weightlifting, it’s all about following the formula. Requires little or no motivation to at least figure out what to do, to quote Nike: (you) just do it! Before long, you can feel and see the difference. Relatively quick positive feedback and reinforcement gets you hooked in roughly 30 days or so. What the research shows, in effect, is that discipline and persistence in one area feeds over into another — but, in this case, only in one direction: matter over mind!

I’m not saying that about 60 years of weightlifting has made me a more disciplined person, but it should have! What that does explain is my fascination with the work of Lessac, and his dictum of “train the body first" and how that has guided my thinking in terms of pronunciation teaching. Gesture-based haptic pronunciation teaching is very much a form of resistance training (as is just good old-fashioned pronunciation drilling when done well!) in that it focuses on directing sound production from the body out, as it were. Some of it, in fact, is also quite physically demanding when conducted properly! And most importantly, it is relatively easy to get students to do homework regularly and (for them) to use the gestural patterns spontaneously in class for correction and modeling.  (See more on that process in upcoming blogpost.)

In other words, some selective "mindlessness" centered on physical training, not all that different from aspects of "mindFULness" today, can play an important role in developing disciplined persistence and better time management or priorities. 

If you have been "resisting" learning about haptic pronunciation teaching, now is the time to join us in the webinars next weekend. For reservations and more information:

University of Jyväskylä. (2018, August 16). Resistance training and exercise-motivation go hand-in-hand: Resistance training improves exercise motivation and contributes to making exercise planning among older adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 11, 2019 from

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting concept, Bill. So much of educational motivation seems to be based on the looming spectrum of grading. But such a scheme fails to provide lasting motivation, as once a successful score is achieved it is usually time to pack up the caravan and abandon the practice.