English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 27.2
English Australia Journal Volume 27 No 2 24 Preparing learners for kinaesthetic reconceptualisation As for any concentrated physical activity, this work is most productive if preceded by a warm-up. It should include breathing and posture exercises as well as limbering up of the articulatory muscles and organs, not only to prepare the learners' bodies for the work, but also to raise awareness of their own vocal apparatus and so that they can begin to exercise voluntary control over it. In dedicated pronunciation classes, there is usually no need to devote class time to warming up more than once. After the first run-through, learners can follow a guidesheet to do their own preparation prior to attending the lesson. A good set of actor voice warm-up exercises can be found in Rodenburg (1998, pp. 89-95), but variations on them can readily be found on the Internet. Resetting/reconceptualising vowel articulation The most important step is to break a learner’s entrenched kinaesthetic habit. So, for example, learners who pronounce ‘work’ (/w3:k/) almost identically to ‘walk’ (/wɔ:k/) can be prompted to pronounce ‘were’ (/w3:/), then to add ‘k’ (/k/): work = were/k. This produces immediate results in many learners, as they perceive and conceptualise and make the prototype sound for the first time. That is why the sentence ‘I want to walk to work’ is the first on my teaching list (Appendix 1). The instant achievement motivates and engages students and increases class attendance. Learners who pronounce ‘were’ as ‘war’ (/wɔ:/) can be guided to an interim step using ‘wear’ (/weə/) instead of ‘were’: work = wear/k. The important effect for learners is to hear and make, for the first time, a different approximation from the habituated one. From there, it is often only a short time before they actually start hearing, and making, the more conventional sound, often spontaneously. Kinaesthetically, this works because the articulatory setting for the interim sound /eə/ (air) is much closer to the one for the conventional sound /3:/ (er) than for the habituated /ɔ:/ (aw); the tongue is high, and the sound forward in the mouth. For similar kinaesthetic reasons this method is applicable to many other common vowel phoneme contrast problems, as follows: • Learners who pronounce /e/ (bet) as /æ/ (bat) can break their entrenched conceptualisation with an interim step via /ɪ/ (bit), so that where they would say ‘Ed said get ready’ as ‘Ad sad gat raddy’, they practise it instead as ‘Id sid git riddy’. • Learners who say the diphthong /eɪ/ (bait) as /e/ (bet) take /i:/ (beet) as the interim step; thus ‘Aim straight at the gate' normally said as ‘Em stret at the get’ is practised as ‘Eem street at the geet ’.
English Australia Journal 28.1
English Australia Journal 27.1