Friday, October 29, 2010

Gesture and learning

Interesting study examining the contribution of gesture to learning and recalling language.

Spacing and visual recognition

The strategic use of visual space is fundamental to HIPoeces systems. In some ways quite analogous to the phonesthetic qualities vowels (See earlier post), the visual schema represented by the adapted International Phonetic Alphabet vowel chart used here, assumes that different areas of the visual field are more sensitive to different colors or hues. In HIPoeces work, the vowel chart from the students' perspective is a mirror image of the standard IPA layout. The front vowels are on the right; back vowels, on left. There are a number of reasons for that, but, in essence, it is because that positioning in the visual field maps on very well to some models of the overall functioning of the different areas in the visual field. Put very roughly, using color, the right visual field (in this system) is more "yellow"; the left, more blue; the center, more green. The top of the visual field is lighter; the bottom, darker, creating hues. That general distribution of sensory differentiation is at least metaphorically consistent with any number of human conceptual systems that are referenced through a two dimensional visual schema. (Much more on that general, fascinating question--later!)

Gesture and better speaking

Speech-synchronized gesture has long been recognized as central to both coherence and focus or emphasis. HIPoeces provides systematic, continuous use of "gesture-synchronized speech," in effect allowing the body to drive the voice, rather than the contrary.

Touch and recognition

Most HIPoeces work involves touch where learners move their arms/hands through space in front of the upper body, completing the stroke with touch. In addition to the research study link above, the McMaster University Tactile Research Laboratory is good source for basic understanding of how touch works.

Learning by speaking output

There has been a very decided, relatively recent bias against pushed output, "forcing" learners into verbal output prematurely--or even requiring a "silent period" in the process.

Hand "motivation"

There is extensive research concerning the relative emotional intensity of left vs right hand. In HIPoeces, that asymmetry is assumed and exploited pedagogically. The handedness and eye dominance effects vary greatly with individuals, but some general principles are evident.

Words and gesture functioning

Gestural, or haptic, anchoring is central to establishing word-level stress patterns and collocations in the system.

New perspective on motor learning

Connecting up the essential motor learning of pronunciation work with the cognitive and metacognitive research agendas of research currently continues to be problematic, at best. But the connection between motor learning and speech perception is important to work in this area.

Tactile learning study

The use of touch is probably the most innovative aspect of the HIPoeces approach.

Gesture and speech

The collocation of gesture and a number of aspects of speech and speaking have been clear for sometime. Research and practice in ESL/EFL has, with few exceptions, not acknowledged that important nexus.

Phonesthetics of products & vowels

The positioning of the vowel "chart" in the visual space in front of the learner has important neurophysiological implications.

Movement-related study

The fundamentals of kinesthetic learning, especially as it relates to individual learning styles is not well understood or exploited in contemporary pronunciation teaching methods.

Touch-related research article

In the overall system, the use of sign-language-like movements takes on a more integrated and "instrumental" function.

There is also, of course, the MIT Haptic Lab