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“Movie-like“ learning with the help of movies

learn spanish with movies

“Movie-like“ learning with the help of movies

Movies are only used for a short while as didactic tools in the lessons. The main reason for this is, as you can imagine, that it has “recently” become more and more popular to integrate multimedia teaching material into language teaching. This includes for example the use of projectors, computers and much more. At first glance, this seems to be very simple because in principle, you only need a television and a video recorder for the presentation of a video. But in fact, it is not that easy. Many schools do not have these materials or they have too little of them and they cannot often be used by a class because they should be available to all teachers. That concerns the technical aspect. From a didactical point of view, the presentation of a movie demands a good preparation of the teacher because he has to search for and to choose suitable material.

When all of this is done and all of these more or less important difficulties are overcome, you will be rewarded with a large number of teaching material and many possibilities. The use of audiovisual media in class – so also of videos to learn spanish – is really enriching and motivating because they make it possible for the students to get to know learning from another perspective. Regarding the movies, it can be, on the one hand, of course exhausting, if you do not understand everything, but on the other hand, this medium represents a good possibility to train the listening comprehension. What do I want to say with that? The videos show real communication – of course only within the scope of fiction.  But through these videos, you can improve your communicative competences. Beyond that, it is possible to develop the listening comprehension and much more, if the right scenes are shown.

Even if you have already watched movies in class, the student can also improve his oral competences at home through this type of teaching material. But how can you use videos and movies to learn languages? The foreign language student who is reading this will think at first glance that this is very easy. But usually, we watch movies at home to relax. Contrary to that, to deal with a movie whose language we do not speak can be very exhausting. I do not want to deny that at the beginning, you have to get used to it, you have to be more concentrated and maybe, you should start with a movie with subtitles – if you want in your native language and later, you can go on with subtitles in the foreign language. When you have passed this “training phase” in favour of the development of these competences (especially the training of the listening comprehension, but also of the oral expression and of the interaction), the success will be considerable. And you can even learn while you are having fun. The use of this medium for children is also a good idea because the language which is used is mostly not very complex. The clever (or trained) ones can also just go to the cinema and watch movies in foreign languages. Like this, you can connect learning and a popular leisure activity.

Movies and videos show the language in a charming and completely other way than they seem to be for most students in class. The learning process, which is stimulated through this, is effective. The conversations and situations, which are shown, are authentic, and beyond that, the movie is also a teaching material which motivates. The reason for that is that it is freed from all the negative things, which are always associated with teaching in class or with autonomous learning.

With other students, you can learn more! Internet forums as tools for language acquisition

With other students, you can learn more!

With other students, you can learn more!

There are some for old people, young people, specialized or not, about video games, gardening, gossip, everyday life, studies, art, stamps, tourism… and of course also about the topic language teaching. Internet forums are today a popular tool for many users and in fact regardless of the education level, possible interests or the profession. Moreover, there is a wide-ranging offer in the Internet, which satisfies the needs of every internet user. In this way, you can even talk about common hobbies, problems, interests and much more with people who live very far away from you.

As I have already said, there are also forums whose goal is the support of language learning. And in this text, we want to deal with these forums in  more detail. If a student uses this type of forum, for example in order to learn, to practise or to perfect his abilities, that will have a very positive impact on his linguistic competences. A forum gives a foreign language student the possibility to train a language which he has already begun  to learn. In such a forum, you can also dispose of the numerous doubts, which can appear, because the forums are a place where you can support each other in the professional as well as in the moral field. This may seem like nonsense, but it is not. In this way, you can train teamwork because, in fact, we do not learn autonomously, but everyone learns from everyone. Due to the fact that the entries appear chronologically and remain saved, they will not disappear immediately and they will not be deleted like chat conversations. So, the user of the forum has the possibility to find the forum again and again in order to read old entries. This is an advantage because these old conversations can help us, if we have exactly the same question as other users before. If you do so, you can avoid to always ask questions in the forum yourself; maybe, another has asked the same question and already an answer.

The learning tool “forum” makes it possible to work in a group with the help of the Internet, and not every group member has to be online at the same time. The entries from everyone just appear, everyone can read them and give his opinion in order to finally find a good solution together.

Although, it is necessary to be careful when you are using this tool because the language is sometimes impaired by the influence of the new technologies. Some words are shortened and many people do not pay very much attention to their spelling.

In the Internet, there is a number of forums which can help you to learn Spanish. Among them, it has to be emphasized especially those which have been created by language schools like Lengalia. Here you can find many exciting contributions to questions about the Spanish language as well as the Spanish and Latin-American culture. The forum is not only a meeting point in order to discuss linguistic questions, but also to exchange practical information. If you do this, you can find out interesting things about the lives of the Spaniards or you can ask to what you have to pay attention if you want to travel to a country, where Spanish is the official language. All these things are just as important as the learning of the Spanish language.

The exchange of experience is a motivating thing and it makes learning easier because during the learning process, there can appear thousands of questions and doubts, which can be solved with the help of the forums in a practical, fast and effective way. Beyond that, the Internet forums enrich us because teamwork is always better.

Reflections on the topic “reading comprehension“


Reflections on the topic “reading comprehension“

Today, we attach, without doubt, a great deal of importance to the reading comprehension. Reading is to introduce the human being into the world which has been created by the human being himself; into this system of devised letters whose goal is communication. This world communicates, broadcasts knowledge, experience, instructions and much more; it broadcasts messages. The script and the reading make also possible that this world created by the human being presents itself to us in several languages. And every language means a new “reality” and a new culture. So, the access to a new language turns at the same time into an access to a “universe” of knowledge, point of views and culture. In order to be able to grasp all these things, you do not only have to be able to read (in the sense of recognizing and of the ability to reproduce phonemes), but you have also to be able to “read well”. This means that you have to be able to understand the meaning of what is written as well as the idea behind the text.

The reading comprehension is a part of the communicative skills. It is very important because a large number of the texts which you have to read and understand are essential for the life with a language. As for the second languages (L2) or rather the foreign languages (LE), the effective comprehension is very important because on the one hand, it can concern the reading of literal texts, but on the other hand also the comprehension of important information as for example the of arrival and departure times on a timetable. Here, you can distinguish between reading for pleasure and reading out of necessity. The reading can also be crucial for the comprehension of culture.

The typical exercises which are given to develop this skill are especially texts which the students have to read in order to receive certain information from them. But when one is choosing the texts,  it is important to take the level which the students have into consideration. The exercises train in general the reading process, the comprehension of the current text as well as the ability to discern and to filter out certain elements. The texts are often used as a premise to confront the students with yet unknown contents of grammar. For example, new verb forms are introduced in the text. These texts can belong to the genre of the “realia”, so they can be taken directly from the reality. But they can also be adapted or even exactly written for this specific purpose. In this context, it is important that the teacher choose the texts with pedagogical farsightedness because his choice will determine whether the students are successful or not. That is the reason why the choice will also decide indirectly on the value of this teaching unit per se.

Beyond that, it is absolutely important for the teaching and for the comprehension that the texts are interesting and attractive for the students. Besides, they have to be exactly adapted to the needs and the insecurity of the students. In this way, they will work more effectively with the text and they will be more motivated. And apropos of nothing, they will develop their linguistic abilities.

To travel with the Spanish language (Language holidays)

To travel with the Spanish language (Language holidays)

For tourists, it seems to become more and more attractive to do a language course during a journey in a foreign country. This is a good opportunity to combine on the one hand fun,  relaxation, the beach and the sea as well as big cities of this world with the learning of a language on the other hand. If you do so, the learning process will happen in the culture and the environment in which the language is resident. According to many theories to language teaching, this context, in which the courses take place, is optimal for language acquisition. You say also immersion. Here, the students get authentic and realistic stimuli. You could say that this is the perfect symbiosis of language teaching and language acquisition. On the one hand, you participate quite normally on a theoretic course, as you would also do, if you were in your native country. But the language courses in foreign countries are even better adapted to the current needs of the tourists. On the other hand, you live in the language because you do all the other activities except for the lessons in the foreign language, too. You can even assume that you do still more activities during the holidays than in everyday life, because, for example, you have to deal very often with the service sector. In this context, language teaching is the first point I have mentioned, and language acquisition the second.

In the holidays, you have very close contact with the language, because it is outside the language lessons omnipresent. Contrary to that, in the native country, the “Spanish world” confines to the course. So, in the latter case, you do not profit from the unlimited contact with the Spanish language in contrast to the first case. If you live together with a Spanish family in the holidays, the difference is even still stronger.

But it also depends very much on the choice of the holiday country, because the student gets to know the dialect of the region. He encounters both the special intonation and the regional culture. The student has to deal with the Spanish language as it is used on TV, on the radio, in the literature and in the street. While doing so, he will also hear the colloquial language and the slang. Depending on the personal linguistic level, this can be a great opportunity to experience with your own eyes the differences in the mode of expression. Then, it becomes evident how much the people’s mode of expression depends on their age or on the job they do. But you always have to remember, how extensive the Spanish-speaking world is and how complex its cultural reality is. The language always reflects of course also this cultural wealth.

Another important aspect of a language course in a foreign country is the fact that you often are in multilingual and multinational classes. So, the majority of the classmates comes from many different nations, what represents a unique and enriching opportunity. This is not only a great experience regarding the culture, but it also forces to talk in Spanish because the Spanish language is the only tool to make oneself understood and it is available to everyone. You  cannot avoid to train and to cultivate constantly your linguistic competences. That is why such a language holiday is also a good thing regarding the idiomatic view.

You can conclude that such a language holiday represents not only a great alternative to any other holiday plans, but it is also an incomparable possibility for the student to train his linguistic skills in a natural way. Besides, you can show yourself like this that you are able to live in another culture and language. All of this make the language holiday an experience which enriches your life in the professional as well as in the personal field.

Comments to literature and language teaching

Comments to literature and language teaching

Many institutions, advisers as well as experts separate language teaching from literature teaching. They view both as disciplines completely separated from each other, although nobody would surely question the close relation between the two. Literature consists of language, and one of the possibilities to express language are literal texts. Nobody would deny the meaning of language for art. Especially in textbooks of the secondary school level and the Abitur (equivalent to the British A level and the American SAT exam), the two topics are treated separately. The table of contents offers on the one hand topics to language and on the other hand some to literature. This continues up to the academic degrees of Philology; there are literal subjects and linguistic subjects. That is the reason, why also many language teachers assume that a literal text can only serve as an “ornament” and as an “embellishment” to the real language teaching.

Although many people  have always thought that it is “almost” impossible to introduce  literature into language teaching, the trend is moving exactly in this direction. Surely, it will be a lot of work because some people are of the opinion that only very advanced students could dare to attempt literal texts in a foreign language. Exactly in this regard, the point of view has to change.

Of course, the teacher has to choose appropriate learning material and documents and he has to adapt them to the student. But also literal texts can be suitable, if you want to use them at all. Particularly noteworthy is the genre of the so-called “realia”, which are more and more often treated lately. These are texts which show the reality and which also appear in this form in the lives of native speakers. They serve the class as perfect examples and teach a lot about language and communication. The idea is that the use of these “realia” should not only be limited to the advanced level, but also beginners should be confronted with that. Literature, whether in the form of the “realia” or not, should be treated at beginners’ level. The key to that is in what I have written above: The suitable, appropriate choice of teaching material. If you select the texts cleverly for the respective levels, literature offers an unbelievable wealth for everyone who wants to teach and learn something about language and culture. On the one hand, we can train with the help of literal texts the reading comprehension (the reading as such), the prosody, the pronunciation, the listening comprehension (by reading aloud), and the text production (by support of the creativity with the help of source texts). On the other hand, the cultural aspect is supported, which is not less important. Literature is part of a language and the language itself is culture. Literature, in turn, reflects the culture. If you deal with literature, the comprehension for both language and culture is strengthened at the same time. Besides, the dealing with literature has also an emotional value, because in the course of it, you can mention and discuss about many different topics. Even the very reading of literature already implies affectivity for many people, because it is a type of art.

Literature is a useful tool for language teaching because it is motivating and attractive for the student. If it is not, it is in our hands to change it. Beyond that, literature is very helpful in dealing with linguistic and cultural problems, which appear in language teaching.