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Seeing with Spanish Eyes: Spanish Audiovisual Recommendations

Musetta Reed and Lauren Rovin use film and TV to bring authentic content into the classroom

LoMásTV
LoMásTV: Spanish Immersion TV is a set of short videos (maximum of five minutes) by native speakers on a variety of topics, such as comedy or environmental issues.

These videos allow Spanish students the chance to hear native speakers of the language talking about something interesting in their own culture (English and Spanish subtitles are an option as well), and will greatly supplement their learning of Spanish or Latin American culture.

On the homepage (www.spanish.yabla.com), you will see a navigation bar at the top with links to video content, pre-made flashcards created by current members, grammar lessons, and subscription options.

The Videos main page displays the newest additions to the video collection and a navigation panel on the left with video content categories. Each video has a description listing its title, difficulty level, time length, actors’ accents (Spain, Argentina, Colombia), and summary. There are currently over 800 videos that range from cultural norms for giving advice and music videos by Enrique Iglesias to mini-series that give students a variety of experiences with the target language. Using the navigation panel and the difficulty ratings makes it easy to choose content that aligns with curriculum goals and meets students at their language abilities.

The videos are also available on iTunes, and any iTunes user can watch more than 200 videos and use the accompanying lessons and teacher resources on the website. However, it may be beneficial to check with local universities to see if you can utilize any resources or subscriptions they might have with Yabla. For example, the University of Michigan has a subscription that University of Michigan community members can access (Language Resource Center: Language Learning Media Subscriptions, n.d.).

In the Lessons section there are over 100 choices, including grammar, vocabulary, and expressions. Using the navigation panel on the left makes it easy to narrow down the type of lesson that is desired. The index link in this section shows a list of all of the lessons that are available on the site. Each lesson has a description of the grammar rule it teaches or a short video that has a native speaker using the grammatical structure in context.

LoMásTV: Spanish Immersion TV is marketed as a way to “learn Spanish by watching Spanish TV in an online video player designed for language learners.” The videos themselves offer authentic Spanish language content, as well as culture, while the websites offer additional resources such as lesson plans that teachers can use and flashcards for any difficult words. The lessons are divided by grammatical tools, vocabulary, and expressions (colloquial sayings and cultural facts), so that you, as a teacher, can find the videos that best fit with the lessons you have already created, or you can utilize their lesson outlines to influence your own plans.

These video podcasts come in a variety of themes, as previously mentioned. For example, if your students are learning about food, there are videos such as the mini-series “Una Historia de Café” that will give the students more information about Latin American coffee, how its made, and its cultural importance. Or, when students are learning about the different countries and cities where Spanish is spoken, there are videos about Seville and Buenos Aires, Guatemala City or Toledo. Videos like these can be used at any level because, the videos have English and Spanish subtitles — students at lower levels can follow along in English if they are not yet comfortable with the Spanish-only option.

The videos are beneficial as supplemental material to a traditional textbook-based Spanish curriculum. Additionally, educators using non-traditional instructional methods can benefit from them. For example, in a Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) classroom, teachers can utilize the videos to incorporate authentic material in a context that is interesting and engaging to students. The three steps of the TPRS process: 1) introducing vocabulary, 2) asking, retelling the story using vocabulary, and 3) extended reading — can still be implemented (http://www.tprstories.com, n.d.). The videos can function as the stories that contain the high-frequency vocabulary the students will be exposed to (teachers can choose the high-frequency vocabulary themselves or choose from the vocabulary lists offered with many of the videos). Specifically, during the third step, the videos can supplement or replace the extended reading. The videos can be paused to incorporate parallel stories and personalized questions and answers (PQA), replay sections with high frequency vocabulary, or pose predictions and inferences (Gross, The 3 Steps of TPR Storytelling, 2007). Additionally, the ability to pause the videos supports 100% comprehension, because content can be translated periodically and there can be mini written assignments or partner retellings that assess understanding and language acquisition.

Finally, these video podcasts target aspects of the American Standards for Foreign Language Learning, the five C’s, which are communications, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities; specifically, this tool helps communication, cultures, and comparisons. For instance, these videos are designed to help the students communicate with native speakers of Spanish, which addresses Standards 1.2, and which states, “Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics…” (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, “Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century,” n.d.). These videos will allow students the chance to discuss a wide array of topics in the target language, and because the videos are presented with Spanish and English, they will be able to comprehend the written and spoken Spanish as well.

As this tool is being presented as one that can supplement the cultural material in a textbook, it is safe to say that these videos address culture. The cultural Standards 2.1 and 2.2 state, “Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied. Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied” (ACTFL, n.d.). LoMásTV: Spanish Immersion TV offers topics that range from the products of Spanish-speaking countries to practices, and it will provide students with the opportunity to discuss both standards of culture, and to do so in Spanish.

The last standard that these videos address is that of comparison, which reads, “Standard 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own” (ACTFL, n.d.). This skill is something that will not only help the students in their current Spanish courses but will be stressed on the revised version of the Advanced Placement Spanish: Language and Culture exam (starting in the 2013-14 school year), which will focus more on the culture of Spanish-speaking countries and compare cultural practices with those in their own culture (“Advances in AP,” 2013). In summation, LoMásTV: Spanish Immersion TV will engage the students with authentic cultural and linguistic material, while allowing the students the opportunity to be successful in the foreign language standards.

Bringing to life language and culture in a classroom can be challenging as an educator. Not many world language educators have immediate and constant access to authentic materials that connect their students to a world commonly experienced via textbook. LoMásTV: Spanish Immersion TV makes it easy to access authentic material in the target language and target culture. Students are exposed to culture and authentic speech in a medium that they use on a daily basis, making it easy for them to incorporate this tool into their process of learning a new language.

Stick Out Your Tongue
Produced by Spain’s RTVE television network, SACA LA LENGUA (Stick Out Your Tongue) is a series of 26 different 30-minute programs devoted to the use of Spanish. It aims to show the richness of the Spanish language, its terminological variety, the interesting side to words and expressions, and its linguistic intermingling.

The programs engage viewers by means of connected theme with authentic content. Each program has a single theme such as forests, protocol, animals, police, beauty, love, sports, etc. There are two special programs dedicated to the lexicon of Don Quixote and the Con­stitution of Cadiz, 1812.

It is an accurate program from the formal point of view, with a friendly and fun tone, and rigorous from the linguistic point of view.

It is also participatory. Citizens are involved by contributing with some words, mentioning expressions and idioms and reciting tongue twisters.

Latin Americans living in Spain play an important role. And the programs are enriched by words and expressions from their linguistic heritage.

Production is supported by participation of the Urgent Spanish Foundation (Agency EFE-RAE-BBVA).

The first season was presented by Ana Solanes, and each program analyzed the curiosities and the origin of language through topics such as food and drink, love and sex, body and health, football, religion, entertainment, and games.
Reporters Maria Majan, Antolin Romero and Lydia Martin toured Spanish communities as in a “road movie” to find the most unusual stories.

Visit http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/saca-la-lengua/ for more.

Texas Spanish Video Archive
The SpinTX video archive provides a convenient web interface to search hundreds of short video clips extracted from the Spanish in Texas Corpus, a collection of interviews with bilingual speakers. The open video archive allows users to explore selected content from the corpus in order to learn about language and culture in Texas from local Spanish speakers. Each video clip is accompanied by a synchronized closed caption and a transcript that has been annotated for thematic content, vocabulary, grammatical and discourse features, and information about the speaker.

Users can search the video archive by keyword and filter their results using the different annotation levels. Educators can automatically highlight or hide selected words or grammatical features within the transcript, tag videos for features that match their interests, and share their favorite collections in playlists.

See www.spanishintexas.org.

More Spanish materials from the University of Texas are available at www.coerll.utexas.edu/coerll/spanish.

Musetta Reed (musettar@umich.edu) is a graduate student in the University of Michigan’s Master of Arts and Certification program and will receive a master’s in educational studies and secondary certification to teach Spanish and English. Her undergraduate studies were also at the University of Michigan, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and English.

Lauren Rovin (ltrov@umich.edu) is a graduate student at the University of Michigan’s School of Education, where she is getting certified to teach secondary Spanish in the Secondary Master of Arts in Education with Certification program. In her undergraduate studies, also at the University of Michigan, she received a bachelor of arts in Spanish with a subconcentration in Latino studies.

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