Today’s pronunciation methodology fails in several respects:

It is over reliant on repetition, it treats pronunciation as a cognitive (rather than physical) activity, and it is linear rather than holistic. This is why pronunciation is not and cannot be integrated into the rest of classwork.

I propose that physicality offers the basis for a different mindset that opens up a new territory of learning activity. This allows a solution to the objections to repetition, the use of a holistic pronunciation syllabus, and a way to integrate pronunciation into all ongoing class activity.

Pronunciation is a physical activity. Our current methodology prioritises both repetition after some sort of ’model’, or cognitive abstraction through descriptions and representations of the physical movements. Both can be helpful as a backup, but lack power as a main approach.

The former emphasizes repetition as the remedy for habit, but you cannot repeat your way out of a habit. First you need the insight into something new and different from your previous habit, then the practice becomes worthwhile. But repetition needs to be smart repetition, where each repetition learns from and is changed by the one before. This is better referred to as iteration.

And the latter emphasizes knowing from outside when what is required is knowing from inside, that is a physical, kinaesthetic, sensing of the movements in the mouth, lungs, breath, and the resulting acoustic impact. This is physical knowing, embodiment, and the more you can do this the more you can help learners do the same.

Our methodology has taken a cognitive problem solving approach to learning grammar and vocabulary, and over-applied this to pronunciation where it fails our learners since pronunciation is primarily a physical activity, having more in common with teaching dance than with teaching grammar. The dance teacher’s job is not just to ‘show’ me the samba, but to help me find the muscles that will enable me to do it. Here’s how I do it for pronunciation:        READ MORE