Video Production in FL Classroom:
Why You Should Adopt and Produce Audiovisual Media
Gaby Semaan, University of Toledo/Assistant Professor, Director of Middle East Studies and Coordinator of Arabic Program
Since the introduction of handheld video cameras, recording home-made videos became an easy and fun activity that most people were able to do and enjoy. As technology developed, cameras became more compact and are now included in all smart phones. Computers became more powerful in their processing abilities, and video editing software became more readily available- most of the times already installed on most desk and laptops, and now available as apps for the different types of tablets. All of these technological advances in the audiovisual media prepared the ground of the social media revolution and for the potential of revolutionary approaches in language classrooms.
As educators of foreign languages, it is urgent that we not only adopt such advances in technology into our classrooms in their passive forms, but also we should adopt them in active ways to promote and facilitate the learning process. The reasons to adopt video production in FL classrooms are numerous, some of the many reasons are:
- An audiovisual production provides the learners with an opportunity to view themselves producing the language and allows them to reflect on what they did and what they can and could do with their newly acquired language skills. It also allows them, and others, to track the progress they have made 1.
- A video production will provide students with a fun educational activity and challenge; a well-structured and planned project will provide them with opportunities to explore some aspects of the language and culture beyond the classroom setting.
- A media project provides the learners with material that they can share with fellow learners, their parents and others in the community, whether physical or cyber.
- Audiovisual and media projects are the tools of today’s students and the strength of the thumb-generation.
- A video production will provide language teachers with strong material for advocacy and promotion of their language programs. Such projects could be used virtually anywhere and with anybody, whether it is the institutions’ administration or government agencies and representatives.
- A video production can be used as an assessment tool; in addition it can be used in any of the three modes of communication- interpretive, interpersonal and presentational.
For educators to adopt such projects in their FL classroom they need to either be familiar with the process or they need to familiarize themselves with it. This will help them to better understand the stages of production; it will also allow them to guide their students and to set clear guidelines and reasonable expectations and time frames for the projects. This is not to say that the teacher should be a whiz in the editing software; however, it is very important that she/he knows the basics of how to use at least one of such available programs. What is exciting is that teachers do not need to go back to any college courses; the internet abounds with free tutorials and step-by-step instructions, and many YouTube videos provide clear instructions as well on a wide range of editing software. However, the degree to which a teacher should get involved in the project itself will depend on many factors including the nature of the project, its purpose and what the teacher and students plan on doing with it.
Just as learning a language is a process, so is the video production. The production process provides the learners with opportunities to practice all skills of the target language, it will assist them to become independent, and potentially life-long, learners. Depending on the nature of the media assignment, the process may also facilitate and encourage cooperation, class cohesiveness and connections with the community/ies, exploration of the history, geography…etc. related to the target language.
Video production in FL classroom could be adopted at any level and could be of any length as the provided example and links from projects I did with my students show. It could be a simple advertisement video, a mini feature film or a documentary style production. I encourage all language educators to seriously consider adopting video production assignments to take their students and classes to a deeper level of engagement.
Examples of video productions varying in type, length, depth and proficiency levels:
2008 Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkgc2CYu-Oo over 13,000 views
2008: The Epic of Antar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjv47-8ZPJQ more than 2,000 views
2010: Cultural in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEopKa_U8nw more than 75,000 views
2013 Immigration Awareness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkVP0Kk1n4c
2013 Medieval Masters of Medicine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D98YU-fKFhY
1 To track their progress, it is advisable that students engage in producing media projects at different learning and language proficiency levels, starting with their novice level.