The effects of prior engaging the EFL learners with films’ expressions on the students’ word retrieval
تاثیر آشنا کردن زبان آموزان با لغات واصطلاحات موجود در یک فیلم بر بیاد آوری همان لغات
Using films as a resource for teaching another language dates back to the first uses of video players in language classes. Having the opportunity of bringing a piece of native form conversation to English as a foreign language classes (EFL) has been granted as a great advantage for teachers of languages. Most of the EFL students especially in Eastern countries don’t get the chance to travel to an English speaking country during their language learning classes; so videos and films remain as their primary source of input for listening, seeing and apprehending the forms of real life conversations in English. Although English teacher’s attitude toward using the films in classes has always been positive the biggest challenge comes when the teachers eagerly get the film to use it in their classes but they don’t know what they should do to the film in order to use it in the best way. Some believe that using the films in classes even in the simplest form (without doing special tasks) is enough and will improve the students’ knowledge of English particularly in the area of colloquial English. On the other hand others have this idea that preparing the students for what they’re going to watch in the film makes the students’ minds more prepared for receiving the upcoming data.
Since the early 1970s, video material has made its way into the EFL classrooms, promoting authenticity and diversity for students’ learning. Educators experienced in using film as a teaching tool have urged its adoption by others (Caulking, 1970; Maynard.1969, 1971, 1977). Wegner (1977) was a pioneer in using this medium. His 1977 pamphlet described various film types and how to use them in the classroom. Bluestone (2000), among others, provided an overview on the general use of feature films as a teaching tool. Eddy and Bracken (2008), to take another example, cited research suggesting that films can help students acclimate to college, engage in more-active learning, and identify something with which they are familiar and apply it to learning new concepts. One of the most notable aspects of the academic literature on the use of films as a teaching tool is the wide variety of fields that have addressed the topic. The use of language is a matter of choice.
This research aims to have a look at a set of previously done researches and studies around the general topic of using films in EFL classes. Films are highly motivating devices for learners. They can change the mood of the classes from the traditional image of a class that most of the learners have in mind. Besides the opportunity of bringing real life conversation performed by native speakers is more useful than it could be neglected. On the other hand most of the EFL teachers complain that using films in their classes make the students carried away from the learning situation and bringing them back to the class takes extra time and energy from the teacher. Unfortunately in some areas like the words and idioms from the film; most of the teachers reported a low percentage of usage by the learners in the post film discussions.
۱) The effects of using subtitle in English or Persian for enhancing language learners’ listening comprehension has been the subject of Hayati’s research. Previous to Hayati’s study others as Markham (1989) and Garza (1991) Neuman and Koskinen (1992) had done some researches about the positive effects of using English subtitle for improving language learners’ listening improvement. Markham’s study showed that students are able to improve both of their listening and reading skills.
In his research Hayati chose two groups of students from Masjid Soliman’s university all have been proved to be at intermediate level of language proficiency using a pre-test. He used one video for both groups but the treatment group’s students could see the English subtitle at the time of watching. The next stage was testing the results so in the subsequent test sentences that were directly taken from the movie with a gap must be filled by the participants. They should have chosen one option that they had heard in the movie. The results revealed that the English subtitles group performed at considerably higher level that the Persian subtitles group.
This research was performed in Iran at Intermediate English proficiency level; and it was a comparison between using English and Persian subtitle. Teacher and language instructors should not ignore these limitations in using the results of this research. The positive effects of using movies for learning English as a tool is undeniable. What the teachers should consider is getting to the utmost fully fruitful result.
۲) Today’s language learning is undeniably related to using multimedia devices. In his research Dr.Savita Srivastava has examined the effects of this new feature on language learners’ motivation. In his idea in our technologically fully- surrounded world teachers’ roles in language classes are more facilitators than leaders and using this new technology is a great help for them. For example when a teacher is trying to explain the meaning of a word the availability of the picture saves a great amount of time for the teacher.
Srivastava organized two groups; in one of them he used the conventional classroom teaching and in the treatment group he used an Educomp Smart class. He also used a modified version of computer attitude questionnaire that is originally created by Dr.Rhonda Christensen and Dr.Gerald Knezek for rating students’ attitude towards multimedia classroom. The result of Srivastava’s research was not surprising and it proved that using multimedia in classroom (specifically interactive white boards) have positive effect on students attitudes towards learning.
In my opinion Srivastava’s job is just a beginning for more researches in this field. Although he wanted to assess the effect of multimedia on students’ attitude to learning he didn’t consider five basic types of media text, video, sound, graphics and animation. Each one of these subjects can be examined in a separate research; the one that makes students more exited in their class and their learning should be founded and used more in language classes.
۳) The next research we are dealing with is Jennifer Lertola’s work from the National University of Ireland,Glaway. She mainly examined the effects of the subtitling task on incidental vocabulary acquisition. Audiovisual Translation (AVT) has many applications like dubbing, subtitling and audio description. But subtitling is one of the most studied AVT modes especially in language learning. The discussions over the usage of translation as a learning continued till its usefulness has been approved (Cook 2001). Natural translation goes through four stages: understanding the vocabulary, understanding the message, reformulating the message in the target language and evaluating the adequacy of the produced text.
As it has been discussed above subtitling a video actively involves the language learner’s mind. The simultaneous involvement of the acoustic and visual channel enhances learning and helps memory retention. It has been suggested that human being are able to retention 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they see, and 80% of what they interact with (Fletcher and Tobias 2005). Then as far as subtitling practice is concerned not only watching and listening but also interacting; then the possibility of retention of vocabulary reaches to 80%. Although all of the theoretical essences of Lertola’s work seemed rational in favor of positive effect of subtitling on learners’ vocabulary retention her research couldn’t approve of any extra advantage over watching the video over and over focusing on the words that have been expressed in the video part.
The result of this study disapproved the researcher’s primary belief, what this result expresses is that watching and listening to a part of a video repeatedly isn’t less effective that trying to translate it to a second language. I personally think that this kind of learning (translating) is an extra burden on the language learner. The stage before trying to encode what you have just understood from the text should have been the final stage. The key factor in vocabulary learning is the repetition and the involvement that happens while the student is trying to decode the message not at the reformulating stage.
۴) At this stage we want to consider a research done by Betul Bal-Gezrgin at Amasya university of Turkey. The main aim of this research is a comparison between using video vs. audio for teaching vocabulary. The idea beneath this research was the efficiency of video because it provides visual illustrations. Videos fill the gap between real-life and school life; Especially in EFL environment where students have limited access to authentic materials. They also contain paralinguistic features which are very useful in setting the context for learning the new vocabulary (Geddes and White, 1978).
Gezegin in his study used two teams of students. The first group watched the same piece of video that the other group just heard, and both groups had to answer a set of questions based on the watched or heard part. For the purpose of gaining in-depth data about what the students thought about presented part with video or audio a number of students from each group have been interviewed. The result of this research showed that most of the students who have watched the video were more successful in answering the questions and they also mentioned the positive effect of watching the video and seeing the paralinguistic features of spoken parts.
In Gezegin’s research a comparison over showing and not showing the exact pieces of listening practice have been compared. Not surprisingly most of the students were more positive to watching the parts and answering related questions. As Herron (1991) showed using the video not only supports more information for the students but also enlightens their understandings about real English. It also changes the monotonous mood of a language class and makes it more real life and definitely closer to real English that people talk.
۵) The next study that should be evaluated here is a study done by Filiz Kalelioglu again in Turkey The main aim of this study was evaluating and assessing new teachers or pre-service teachers’ attitude toward video based classroom discussion. The idea of this study is that in some lessons, video can be used not only as an instructional tool for supporting lesson with different activities but also as a discussion tool for facilitating interaction among students and teachers. The videos used in the discussions were selected according to their richness of points of teaching and learning methods.
Kalelioglu in his study use pre-service teachers as his target group. He asked a set of open-ended questions in them he asked for their ideas about the usefulness and difficulties of using these Video based classroom discussions; The reported problems were seating arrangement problems in the classroom the large number of the students in each class and the quality of the videos had been used in the class also putting different perspectives to students was one of the problems reported. On the other hand positive points were mentioned too as it gave the students a chance to observe, to generate alternative thoughts, to develop the ability of critical thinking and self-evaluate and to see others’ experiences and to practice.
This study has presented a different view about using videos in language classrooms. Its idea is using videos as prompts for discussions in EFL classes; although this is relatively noble but in my opinion it cannot be used in most of the language classes with students at lower levels of proficiency. For students at higher levels watching a video part and discussing the ideas or cases in it can be very exciting and motivating. This resembles films’ analyzing classes. Other important factors as the number of students in each class and the adequacy of the chosen video for discussion should also be considered.
۶) As we have discussed using films in many different aspects of L2 learning; Zsuzsanna Ittzes Abrams in his research used films to provide a context for teaching L2 pragmatics. Communicative competence is one of the most elegant goals of second language instructions (Hymes 1972). Pragmatics competence has been defined as” the study of speaker and hearer meaning created in their joint actions that include both linguistic and nonlinguistic signals in the context of sociocultural organized activities” (LoCastro,2003:p.15). Two types of knowledge make pragmatic competence: Pragmalinguistic (how language form affects meaning) and Sociopragmatic (how to adapt language according to situated factors) (Bella, 2012; Cenoz, 2007; Rose&Kasper, 2001).
According to Lay (2009), films can be used for fostering intercultural learning. Films model super segmental information such as turn taking, body language, intonation. A crucial additional benefit is that filmic materials allow learners to observe L2 pragmatics without the teacher’s presence. Abrams used the control group to complete the exercises in the text book for practicing the pragmatics and the treatment group to complete the exercise based on the film scenes. The final data of this research supports other researches’ findings; that films can offer contextualized discourse-length language samples. Using the films in this study supports the students with the purpose of the conversation.
What Abrams considered here is a rather new way of research compared to all of the discussed researches above; as in most of them using and non-using films was the subject of comparison but here Abrams compared two groups, both of them watched the film but with different purposes. This comparison of different usages of films in a language class has been done in a way that that it lays the foundation for future researches about exploring the early developments for L2 pragmatics, comparing learner’s performance against native speaker norms.
۷) Another study here we want to discuss is a study done by Farmimah Ghasemboland and Zohreh Nafissi about The effect of using captions on Iranian EFL students’ listening comprehension. Listening comprehension is one of the skills that need lots of practice in EFL situation. Allan Paivio (1971) proposed the Dual-coding theory. In this theory he proposes that memory consists of two separate and interrelated coding systems for processing information; one verbal and the other visual. The learner recalls information more easily if the information is coded in both systems. Meanwhile, it is necessary to distinguish subtitles from captions. Subtitles refer to on screen text in the students’ native language combined with a second language soundtrack while captions refer to on screen text in a given language combined with a soundtrack in the same language.
In their study Ghasemboland & Nafissi divided the participants to two groups. Both groups watched the same piece of film that took 20 minutes the control group watched the film without caption while the treatment group watched the same film captioned. After that both group had to answer a set of comprehension check questions based on the film. The result showed that the group who watched the film with English caption outperformed the control group in the post test. This result approves Vanderplank’s (2010) belief about the potential value of captions in helping the language acquisition process.
Not surprisingly this study showed the positive effects of using captioned films in students understanding and comprehension of the film. It can be inferred that when students not only hear the conversations but also see them their reading ability help their listening comprehension and fills the existed gaps in the whole concept formation process. Although this research’s results are only valid for Iranian students at university with average level of English proficiency for generalizing this result other contexts of learning in EFL situations like other countries, other ages or gender discrimination should be considered.
۸) Another research that should be examined due to its importance and wide scope of it is H.Joan and Morley and Mary Lawrence’s research about the use of films in ESL classes as a source of material. Films can be the limitless source for English learning and practicing. With careful choice and purposeful planning films can be used to their full potential and become valuable teaching tools. Morley in his study considered two purposes of films. One is a linguistic purpose and one is an informational purpose. The last purpose is only specific to advanced students. The linguistic purpose is to provide students with live experience of listening and practicing different skills as reading, writing and speaking.
Listening is the first practice of film seeing involves note-taking and answering aural questions. Morley estates that speaking is also one of the skills can be practiced using films by discussing different views about the scene, summarizing the story and analyzing the characters. The third practiced skills by films can be writing. A set of writing tasks can be assigned based on the film; using the new vocabulary and structures used in the film can be recommended in the writing tasks. The goal of forth skill, reading, is to provide several short magazine or newspaper articles which supplement the information in the film. Reading the captioned films while watching them is a practice for reading skill.
In my opinion Morely in his study not only suggests using films as a source for listening and reading practice but also as a source for practicing writing and speaking. These two skills are productive skills i.e. Students themselves should provide the feeding material to them. And using films as a source for practicing these two skills is a relatively noble idea expressed by this study. More researches and studies should be done to prove the positive effects of using films in all of these skills area.
۹) One more research that we should examine here is a research done by Mohammad Alipour, Bahman Gorjian and Lida Gholampour. This research’s location is also Iran and they evaluated the effects of pedagogical and authentic films on EFL learners’ vocabulary learning. The differing point of this study to the others that we’ve examined up to now is the comparison of authentic films and pedagogical ones and specifically their effects on vocabulary learning. In their study, Kim and Gilman (2008) concluded that as vocabulary learning is often used with strategies such as word lists in which new words are presented with their translations and these strategies are outdated and irrelevant to students who are accustomed to visual stimuli. So, developers of vocabulary learning instruction and curriculum should consider their use of multimedia within their presentations (Gorjian, Alipour & Saffarian, 2012).
Alipour and others in this study divided the participants in two separate groups with the same level of proficiency evaluated by a pre-test. The first group watched a pedagogical film with specific words presented in it in three separate sessions. The second group watched an authentic film with a different vocabulary scope presented in it. Both groups had to take a vocabulary test related to the presented words in their films. The reported results of students’ performance in these tests showed a great outperformance of the authentic group in the vocabulary reversion test. Authentic materials such as films engage the learners in activities; so they reduce anxiety and affective filters which allow the acquisition to take place (Hayati & Mohammadi, 2009).
What I consider valued about this study is its noble view at the kinds of films that can be used in EFL classes. Most of the teachers’ common belief is that films if they can be used in their language classes should be pedagogical ones. Since these films has been specifically made to teach grammatical and vocabulary words. This research though should that pedagogical films are not the best choices for the teachers but authentic films (definitely at proper level of proficiency of the students) can be even more useful and because of the free and relaxing mode that they provide to the class students will learn and remember more words from them.
۱۰) The last study we want to scrutinize here is about the usage of subtitle in cartoons in EFL classes and mainly the dangers of using inter-lingual subtitles done by Ligita Judickatie-Pasvenskiene. The location of this study is Lithuania and the subjects are children who learn English as their second language. As it has been showed the use of subtitled audiovisual material in both foreign language classroom and incidental learning situations has received a lot of attention from researchers; despite some doubts, most of the studies cannot refute the fact that such material is a powerful tool for foreign language acquisition. The aim of Judickatie’s study is twofold; she wants to show the positive effects of using captions in language acquisition for children and to show the dangers of using inter language subtitles for them.
Some of the experts may say that using subtitles may cause the language learners’ distraction from getting the audio parts (listening) and paying attention to what is being played called visual. Lots of studies (Some of them have been examined here in this paper) proved that Most of the viewers can manage to divide their attention between the two streams of information successfully (d’ydewalle and gielen, 1992). The potential dangers of using subtitles in a language different from the film’s language have been explained in Judickatie’s study; subtitle idioms in cartoons: The problems of using the existing idioms in a foreign language, general translation problems: problems that exist while you want to translate a sentence or phrase from a language to another and segmentation and line breaking: The problems of breaking the source text into sections.
In my opinion the findings of this study make doubts about using subtitles in cartoons as a tool for language acquisition by children. Subtitle’s quality matters more than what has been stressed before. Factors as precision of the translation are crucial in making them standard to be used in ESL classes as teaching tools. This study shows that not all idiomatic source language expressions retain their idiomatic aspect in L2 subtitles, even in the cases when such retention is possible; cases of inaccurate translation as well as errors in segmentation and line breaking are noted. All of these may diminish the process of foreign language acquisition.
As it has been stated in the introduction most of the researches and studies are proved to be in favor of using films in language classes. Secles, Herron and Tomasello explain “Viewing the video would enhance students’ learning of vocabulary and idiomatic structures because of the contextualized presentation of the video” (۱۹۹۲, p. 481).Positive results as changing the mood of the class, escalating students’ eagerness, using native language in EFL situation which in most of them hearing native speaking is granted as an opportunity come with using films in language classes. Although most of the researches approved of the advantages of using authentic material comparing to pedagogical ones using non-native video materials that have been prepared only to be used in language classes is not useless.
Based on the growing use of films and video material in EFL classes, researchers should be looking for the best ways of using these materials in the favor of boosting the students’ abilities in language learning. Another field that has been studied here was a comparison between using and not using the subtitles while we play the film in native language for learners at different ages. The beneficial effects of using native language subtitle or in some researches has been called captions has been proved in some researches. But we should be aware of the negative results of using a subtitle in any L2s while the learners and especially the young learners unwarily acquiring new words and expressions from the film or cartoons.
By looking at the researches discussed here we can claim that this paper hasn’t been anything more than an introduction to the vast area of researches related to methods of using films in EFL classes. The specific area of the effects of using films and cartoons on language learners at different proficiency levels remains an untouched area. Her we suggest some more guides for other studies in this filed as: The effects of using films on language learners based on their age criteria, a comparison of duration of vocabulary retrieval when they have been presented by films or when they have been presented by other teaching resources as textbooks or audio files, a comparison among different types of video material (documentary, sitcoms, films,…) that can be used in a language class and their effects of language learning, etc.
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