Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

October 19, 2016
by leesensei

Pre-Bell: The Short Vocabulary Video Intro/Review…

First off we don’t have bells in our school. But we do have time when students are in the room prior to class starting and I want to use this time to set the environment for learning. This year with my Year1’s I have started experimenting with a video to either reinforce or introduce a concept.

Today this involved the idea of counting how many people there are. We use it a lot in our “What Is Your Family Like? What Are Japanese Families Like?” unit. It’s a pretty simple and easy concept. Instead of embedding it in a story to introduce…I chose a more ‘direct’ visual approach. I searched YouTube for a video – ‘counting people in Japanese‘ and found a fun one including visuals, subtitles and an annoyingly catchy tune. Note that, due to wifi unreliability I download the video from Youtube. Then, I put the video into Quicktime (or a similar program) and set it to play on a loop. As students entered it played, over and over, and when we were ready to begin I asked the class, in the Target Language, “How many people at this table?”. They all responded. We went around with variations and then extended it to “How many people in your family?”…done…easily, in context, and without my direct teaching of it. We went on to use the information in class activities. As they finished up some ‘next day preparation’ I played the audio on a loop as well….Finally prior to leaving I asked them to tell their partner how you said “one person” or “two people” in Japanese. All could…

Another example – Days of the month – which in Japanese involve a variety of special words for the days 1-10, 14, 20 and 24. I want them to be able to say their own birthday but at least to recognize a classmates date of birth when they hear it. So I found a wacky video made by some students in Australia. Again it played on a loop…Again we used it afterwards via audio to reinforce.

Instead of vocabulary you could use a commercial or other short piece of video that highlights a particular language concept. I looped a small scene from the drama we watch yesterday in order to pull out the phrase related to ‘intend to do’. There are a wealth of videos out there for almost any topic in almost every language (I do find that it is vocabulary that is most prevalent). This is by no means the only way that students will encounter these words/concepts as we will use them in embedded readings and more activities. But it is a quick way to introduce and/or reinforce…and hopefully engage…


PS – The day after the ‘counting people’ video I put it on at the start of class again. And what happened? Singing. Yes – almost the whole class singing the song…then I turned off the projector and they sang with the song audio…then I turned off the audio and they sang. Finally they counted with their partner…I’m off looking for more ‘quick hit’ videos!

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