Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A "touch" for language learning

(Haptic) Touch-screens have been available for decades, of course, but some of the newer portable applications of that technology to language learning signal what is coming. For example, BYKI, iPhone apps for Japanese, AccelaStudy,  Rosetta Stone--and many others have iPhone apps. There is, however, nothing out there right now that is worth endorsing for (HIPoeces-haptic) pronunciation work at the moment, but it won't be long. For example, Laura Sicola at the University of Pennsylvania is developing an iPhone app for learning English prosody that is very promising.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Proto-typical haptic anchoring can be fun!

This one was also linked in the right-hand column recently under "techniques" but it is too good to miss. It meets most of the criteria: directed touch somewhere on the body (actually termed, "tagging" in HIPoeces) on stressed or focused words or syllables, and full-body engagement. We could almost add another criterion, as evident here and in many haptic-integration techniques: fun. Recommendation: Do this one along with the video (the basic format of HIPoeces instruction) half a dozen times if you can't get going some morning.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Integrated curriculum, integrated skills and integrated experience

The term "integrated" is used in several senses in the field: integrated curriculum integrated skills instruction, and  ESL content integration.The 'I" in HIPoeces, by contrast, refers to an approach to facilitating learner ability to integrate and use aspects of English pronunciation introduced in the classroom and subsequently practiced -- in spontaneous speaking. For the most part, the curricula used with HIPoeces systems are integrated, as is the skill focus and requirement that all modalities be engaged simultaneously to the extent possible. The key, however, is the "addtional", systematic focus on movement and touch (haptic) that should substantially enhance the learning of pronunciation.As noted in previous posts, the basic framework for conceptualizing that process has been inspired and informed by the work of psychotherapists Bradshaw and Cook in Observed Experiential Integration Therapy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Interrelationship of vision to touch

According to this study, the blind develop faster tactile processing. What is interesting is what that reveals about the interplay between the senses, in general, in learning. The question in HIPoeces work is to what extent can touch and felt sense (see previous post) complement the auditory/visual engagement of typical instruction, avoiding the "change the channel fallacy" (see previous post)--more effectively anchoring kinesthetic "moves" and sensations of vocal cord vibrations, along with sympathetic resonance in the bones of the skull.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The "felt sense" of speaking

The term, felt sense, was coined by psychologist Eugene Gendlin to refer to the complex, conscious awareness of body sensations, awareness that is both felt (emotionally, holistically) and sensed (cognitively, reflectively). Most importantly, once such a state is appropriately identified (usually with the assistance of a therapist or coach) there is a better chance that it can be managed and perhaps used constructively. The extension of that idea to various types of "body-centered" therapies and therapeutic techniques has interesting implications for (cognitive) pronunciation instruction.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kinesthetic vs haptic-augmented techniques

I'll be linking to two new YouTube videos in the next couple of days that demonstrate the treatment of vowels in HIPoeces. The move from my earlier "simple" kinesthetic focus, where speech was accompanied by hands and arms flailing around in front of the upper body, began several years ago. I had figured out that working with a virtual IPA vowel chart and having learner move their arms to positions in the chart as they said the vowel was potentially very effective, but I could not get any learner to consistently go to the same place for a given vowel. Particularly as the arms tired, the vowels quality setting would sink as well! About that time I also began working with Rick Bradshaw in Observed Experiential Integration Therapy (See right sidebar for link to OEI website). OEIT makes extensive use of the visual field and involves some haptic anchoring as well. It may also have been watching a flamingo dancer that gave me the idea of having students basically clap their hands in the correct locations. Regardless, once I started experimenting with that model, students ability to consistently anchor and recall the pronunciation of vowels improved dramatically. It was just a matter of finding the right "touch!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How ballerinas make it look so easy . . .

Learning to dance uses more than kinesthetic memory. Conversely, by "accompanying" the speaking of phrases or clauses to be learned with arm/hand movements which draw out intonation contours in the air--a common practice with pronunciation teachers, acquiring new sounds becomes a dance involving much more than just auditory and visual memory. (To that, HIPoeces typically adds touch of some kind on key elements.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Firefox issue

I have recently heard that some are having problems w/accessing the blog on Firefox. Crome and Safari seem ok. Have contacted Support and will get it fixed as soon as possible. ***It appears to be resolved.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Principles of stage movement

Here is a brief article describing the basic approach of a contemporary stage movement instructor. In essence, it is quite similar to the requirement for "full body" engagement in HIPoeces training. As noted in the right column, the work of Arthur Lessac in voice and stage movement was most influential in providing a way to conceptualize movement and teach from within it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The "Change the Channel Fallacy"

Several years ago a colleague who worked in addiction counseling explained to me why many therapeutic approaches to addiction fail: they try to change the channel. By that he meant that the method may "simply" try to convince the brain to go for "good" pleasure rather than bad, like switching drugs--or exchange good thoughts for bad. That is why successful treatments are multi-modal, using some other channel from the one the addiction is logged into to eventually change the behavior or the problematic channel. In my view that is one of the key reasons that pronunciation work can fail as well: (simply) trying to substitute sounds, in the auditory track. That is why, in many cases, cognitive and meta-cognitive "treatments" or instructional focus can be successful--depending on the modality preferences of the learner. That is also why, haptic engagement seems to work.

Both kinesthetic (movement) and tactile (touch)are, for most, secondary channels which can be trained without directly confronting the primary processing channels, whether visual or auditory. Ironically and somewhat counter intuitively, for a highly visual learner, a strong auditory training focus may work, or vice versa. One the principles of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) which I have found most helpful is: for maximum effect, try to anchor a sensation in a learner's secondary or tertiary channel, not primary. How you figure out what that means in a big class is a matter for another post, but you see/hear/feel/are moved or touched by the idea?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What constitutes a "haptic technique?"

"Haptic" involves movement and touch. That can involve anything from clapping hands to holding an object (such as a baton) and beating out a rhythm, much like a conductor. Simple enough. In HIPoeces methodology, the haptic "event", the touching, is generally associated with word, phrasal or discourse-level stress positioning. Furthermore, in most cases it involves one hand touching the other or part of the body, such as a forearm or shoulder. The haptic engagement is either following prepared texts or driving spontaneous speaking at more advanced levels. The "Rhythm Fight club" Youtube videos linked in the column to the right in principle (and good fun) meet that criteria--but are not standard procedures! I will link to two more YouTube videos of model HIP techniques shortly.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Haptic augmentation of instruction

A study exploring the effect of adding haptic engagement (touch + movement) to science instruction. (No real surprise but . . . ) it helped--significantly! The HIPoeces approach is multi-sensory or multiple-modality based, that is the attempt is always to engage all senses simultaneously. As noted elsewhere, the systematic use of touch in most procedures is central to the methodology. I have only anecdotal evidence thus far that touch augmentation in pronunciation consistently enhances "uptake" and recall of instructional targets--but the evidence from several other fields (such as science instruction)as to the impact and potency of touch is unequivocal.

Impact of touch on body representation

The terminating point of most of the "strokes" or movements in HIPoeces techniques is typically one hand touching the other. This study focuses on the relative strength of the touching hand vs the hand being touched. The implications of that finding for how techniques are executed and the positioning of the hand being touched are important for anchoring sounds and sensations most effectively.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Touch and memory research

The application of tactile, kinesthetic and spatial dimensions (along with simultaneous visual and auditory schema) of the HIPoeces model is designed to assist the learner in changing or learning new sounds and sound processes efficiently--and recalling the material later. As noted elsewhere, "touch" is probably the distinctive of HIPoeces work. (See also the link to the American Sign Language visual dictionary for examples of well-established multi-sensory nexus.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hands on work

Although not a research study, this article neatly makes the case for the use of "manipulatives" in content ESL/EFL instruction. As mentioned in the left and right column in various places, there is more to HIPoeces methodology than simply movement and touch as anchors or stimulants to learning. Holding a rubber band and stretching it on stressed vowels in words to anchor the sensation of long vs short vowels is proposed as a useful technique in pronunciation teaching (cf.Gilbert, 2007)--but it does not meet the criteria of the touch occurring ONLY on the stressed or focal element, not the rest of the word. In that case, the sensation of the rubberband is continuous, not discreet. The "nexus" of sound, sight, movement and highly focused touch is here proposed as the "sine qua non" of the system.

Kinesthetic learning preference

Although methodologically suspect, this study does reveal a kinesthetic (not haptic, per se, but leaning in the right direction) learning preference in Malaysian EFL learners and has a useful literature review. There are numerous studies supporting the efficacy of kinesthetic-oriented instruction and learner preference for kinesthetic learning styles. In many instances, in general usage in the field, however, the terms, kinesthetic, tactile and haptic are used interchangeably. There are, as far as I am aware, no published studies in the ESL/EFL literature on strictly haptic-oriented methods or techniques.