This chapter reports on a study which evaluates the effect of a language teaching approach called the Somatically-Enhanced Approach (Zhang, 2006)in the teaching of Thai to Vietnamese learners in Vietnam. The teaching methodology deals with training students’ pronunciation in Thai from the beginning. Innovations include: the using relaxation techniques to relax students; the use of humming, clapping and physical gestures to emphasize the rhythm of Thai; the use of a Speech comparison tool (Sptool) (Zhang & Newman, 2003) and the provision of all learning materials on CD-ROMs. Results show that after 12 face-to-face hours, Vietnamese students who undertook an intensive course in SEA achieved the same level of fluency in spoken Thai, in limited contexts, as their fellow students who studied Thai for 1 year using the traditional approach. Both quantitative and qualitative results of the study will be briefly reported including an evaluation of the Speech comparison tool.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Comprehensibility: A subjective assessment of ease or difficulty of comprehension as opposed to a measure of actual intelligibility.
Kinesia or Kinesics: Refers to the study or use of non-vocal phenomena such as facial expressions, head or eye movements, and gestures, which may add support, emphasis, or particular shades of meaning to what people are saying. These phenomena are known as paralinguistic features. The use of paralinguistic features in this sense is also called kinesics.
Dyspraxia: Developmental dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organization of movement. It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. The term dyspraxia comes from the word praxis, which means “doing, acting.” Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought. Retrieved on July 17, 2005, from http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-information/whatis.html
Segmental: Segmental phonemes refer to the vowels and consonants of a particular language.
Fluency: The features which give speech the qualities of being natural and normal, including native-like use of pausing, rhythm, intonation, stress, rate of speaking, and use of interjections and interruptions.
Acoustic Phonetics: Deals with the transmission of speech sounds through the air. When a speech sound is produced it causes minor air disturbances (sound waves). Various instruments are used to measure the characteristics of these sound waves.
Suprasegmental: Refers to units which extend over more than one sound in an utterance, for example, stress and tone. Tones in tonal languages such as Thai and Mandarin Chinese are one of the suprasegmental features of the languages.
Accentedness: Refers to the extent to which a listener judges L2 speech that differs from the native speaker norm.
ASR: Automatic speech recognition is the process of converting a speech signal to a sequence of words, by means of an algorithm implemented as a computer program. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_recognition.