Culture: Lesson 4
Using the Internet
With our students spending more and more time on social networking sites on the Internet, why not appropriate some of that time and interest to language study?
Using the Internet in the language class.
• Uses Internet resources to facilitate authentic contact with L2 (e.g., connect with native-speaker pen pals).
• Encourages direct interaction within virtual community of learners and native speakers.
• Uses multiple modalities (text, audio, video, interactive, etc.) in real time.
Try to find the equivalent of Facebook or MySpace in the language that you teach. Explore the environment and try to locate the placement and nomenclature of well known features such as “Search,” “Click,” “Enter,” “Delete,” etc. in the target language. How might you introduce these terms to your class so that they would have an easier time online in the target language?
About Rockin’ Russian
Many times, the Internet provides video material that can be used in language classrooms. As an example, we will explore the Rockin’ Russian music video program as a supplement to language and culture instruction in Russian. This web-based program encourages language students to learn vocabulary, grammar, and cultural literacy at their individual proficiency levels. Students increase their time on task by far, as compared to relying solely on traditional classroom time.
Structure of the Rockin’ Russian music video program.
In this clip, pay particular attention to the captioning feature of the player and the type of support it might provide. Also, note how the exercises take into account the proficiency of each learner using the player. How would you direct students in using these features?
Features of the Rockin’ Russian music video player.
Now let’s see examples of the “Video Exploitation” strategies we explored in Lesson 3.
Take a look at the lyrics to the song “Out of Range” in Russian and in English. Based only on the lyrics, make some assumptions about the meaning of the song. More specifically, give a few variations on what the words “out of range” can mean.
Lyrics to “Out of Range”
Discussion of lyrics to Out of Range.
Choose a popular song in the language that you teach. How much about the meaning of the song itself is revealed in the title?
Now that you know how the lyrics – especially the title – apply to the visuals in this video, draft a few ideas on how you might prepare your students to watch the video in order to help them get the meaning as efficiently as possible. Remember: Good Preview exercises don’t give anything away. No spoilers!
Using the lyrics as a guide, think about the images in the following video and sketch out a few ideas for a variety of exercises to accompany it. Think about “peeling away the layers” of the video and revealing as much about its meaning as possible.
Sample video: Out of Range.
After viewing the video, what could you add to your students’ experience to take them deeper into linguistic and non-linguistic understanding?
Discussing the sample video.
A beginning teacher in the video suggested that students could come up with what happens after the video ends. How would such an exercise play out in your own class? How would you use the students’ responses to further their work on the language and culture?
While “culture” as a word and concept might be hard to define succinctly, there is little argument that it is the linchpin of much of what we do in our language classes. Ask your students why they’re studying a language. Odds are that the reason they give will be culturally based: travel, food, music, literature, relationships—all require a particular knowledge not just of the language, but of the cultural particulars of a people and place. That said, how we teach culture remains a thorny issue for all of us.
This module attempted first to demonstrate what we all know intuitively: language and culture are inextricably intertwined and should be taught that way as well. Next, it tried to illustrate how cultural literacy might fit into a language curriculum, even from the first days. And finally, it suggested that using authentic video might serve ideally as the bridge between linguistic content and cultural information in a lively and engaging context. Current applications of Internet and web technology might further serve to promote effective and efficient use of video media to the end of teaching language and culture seamlessly.
Instructor’s Final Comments
“ In his 1984 seminal work on video in language teaching, Jack Lonergan notes: “The speakers in dialogues can be seen and heard; other participants in the situation can be seen. The language learner can readily see the ages of the participants; their sex; perhaps the relationships one to another; their dress, social status, and what they are doing; and perhaps their mood or feelings. Further, paralinguistic information, such as facial expressions or hand gestures, is available to accompany aural clues of intonation.” Indeed, all of these advantages of the video medium can be tied back to the subject of our conversation: culture.
It is hoped that this brief foray into the world of cultural literacy and language teaching might inspire you to push the envelope a bit the next time you choose a text or film for your language class. Perhaps you might now think of reshaping your own curricula and syllabi, this time following the maxim, “Where culture leads, language will follow.”
[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.