Culture: Lesson 3
Video materials provide a unique opportunity to present, teach, and internalize authentic information—linguistic, cultural, and visual—about the target country. Because these materials can be edited for presentation, they are also excellent venues for focusing our students’ attention on specific details and for creating exercise materials based on the video itself. In short, judicious use of these material can substantially increase the quantity and quality of time spent on task with the language and culture.
Take some time to think about what you would consider to be a language teacher’s highest priorities. Consider including the following:
• To develop language learners into active learners within the limited time frame of a standard university course.
• To make authentic video materials essential components of the interactive FL classroom.
• To simulate “real life” environment to facilitate acquisition of linguistic and non-linguistic elements of communication.
Though using authentic video materials present one way to integrate culture more aggressively into our language classes, we need to consider carefully what materials we use and how we use them.
On video-based instruction.
Choose a short scene in a favorite film in your native language. Watch the segment with the sound turned OFF and with a critical eye for moments in which the action might not be immediately clear to a non-native viewer. What could you do to make these moments more intelligible or clear?
Just as we take great care in selecting the works of literature that we use in our teaching, so must we act when it comes to video materials. Not all video, after all, is good video. So here are some of the basic considerations for selecting useful video for language and culture instruction.
Criteria for video selection.
Is Any Video “Good” Video?
In short, no. Desirable linguistic material should be current, accurate (what people really say), and useful. Another aspect to keep in mind when choosing video is having a high audio/visual correlation. The picture and sound/words should work together to enhance meaning. Here is a list of criteria for assessing audio/visual correlation:
• Is the video track essential to complete understanding?
• Does the video track facilitate comprehension of text?
• Can the visuals stand alone without text?
Also, try to include video material that contains multiple “layers,” where repeated viewings can increase understanding of paralinguistic elements (gestures, proxemics, body language, etc.). Finally, always remember that students continue to have higher and higher expectations of video content. If we want it to be taken seriously, choose only material with high production values, which
• present a complete discrete segment (beginning,middle, end),
• are compelling/entertaining, and
• can maintain the interest of a native speaker/viewer.
Choose a current 30- or 60-second television commercial as an example of an authentic video segment. Using the criteria discussed, determine whether or not this segment might be suitable for an English language class or not.
So how do we “exploit” the video material we have selected. How do we use it to the best advantage and effectiveness in the classroom? Approach the task as you would a reading text. Think about how you would approach introducing a new reading to your class. How would you get them ready to read it? What kinds of questions would you pose as they work their way through the text? What do you do after they finish the text and ask: “Why did we have to read THAT?” How do you follow up a reading assignment? The approaches you use for dealing with these question will all almost certainly work with video, too!
Video exploitation: adjust the task, not the text.
In summary, use reading strategies in approaching video material: previewing, guided viewing, and follow-up.
Previewing makes the material (linguistic and non-linguistic) of the video segment more readily accessible to the learner by:
• Introducing new concepts (lexical, grammatical, functional, cultural, etc.) before the first viewing of the segment;
• Providing background information to help the learner develop native-like schemata or “prior text” to understand video material (basis for cultural literacy);
• Allowing the learner to apply native language strategies to new material;
• Preparing the learner to comprehend the material without giving away the “punch” of the segment.
Task viewing guides the learner in peeling away the various layers of the video segment, to discover and master the linguistic, paralinguistic, and cultural material contained in it. Task viewing involves:
• Having students view and re-view the video material in order to solve the assigned task.
• Focusing the learner’s attention on relevant elements in the segment.
• Organizing and structuring the viewing to make the material memorable and relevant, not testing his/her memory.
• Maintaining the integrity of the original segment.
Follow-up activities help the learner understand the broader application of the material covered in the segment by:
• Adding to or building on the layers of information presented in the video.
• Extending the frame of usage of the material already learned.
• Providing additional material to complete or supplement the portrait created by the video material.
[Module Instructor Thomas Jesús Garza]. 2010. [Culture]. In Foreign Language Teaching Methods. Carl Blyth, Editor. Texas Language Technology Center, University of Texas at Austin. http://coerll.utexas.edu
The material is provided free of charge for those that wish to study it.
How ever a no obligation exam is available at the end of this module.