News comes to me of a forthcoming phonetic workshop to be held in Maine (northeast USA). It is entitled “Joy of Phonetics” and will be given by Louis Colaianni.
It will “explore and embody virtually all of the sounds of the English language, as well as some foreign sounds”, not to mention “exploring the expressive attributes of vowels and consonants”. Expressive attributes? You can see that it is aimed at voice-speech-and-drama people rather than at students of linguistics, laboratory phonetics, or speech and language therapy.
What really grabbed my attention, though, was the promise of “learning exercises and games using phonetic pillows”. Phonetic pillows? I don’t think I’ve ever had a phonetic pillow. Did you know you can buy a supply of them? Here’s what they look like.It turns out that they are pillows in the shape of phonetic symbols. I’m not sure how they are used: perhaps if I throw a stuffed schwa at you, you cry ə, and if you retaliate by throwing an esh at me I have to go ʃ. Here's a pillow in mid-throw. (Not quite sure whether it's a, e or ɐ.) This picture comes from a page headed Phonetic Pillow Teacher Certification.
At least this could be a fresh way to motivate students to learn IPA symbols. It evidently works wonders — the website offers glowing testimonials to this method. "Cannot imagine learning speech by any other method"? It’s not how I learned speech myself...
Somehow I fear I would not have been taken seriously if I had tried phonetic pillows with the students of linguistics and of speech therapy that I used to teach. But the drama students with whom I moonlighted when very young would have loved them.
EFL teachers, do you think your students would benefit from this method?