One of the biggest advantages of teaching foreign languages is that you can include “fun” learning resources, such as songs or videos. Listening exercises always make the lesson more entertaining. There is plenty of audiovisual material specifically designed for the language class. However, you might also use clips from famous films or TV shows, or songs by popular singers. If this is what you choose to do, hereyou have some humble advice to exploit the audiovisual resource to the fullest.
First, this might seem obvious, but you should always choose a song or clip without swearing, violence or sex (which leaves the vast majority of modern Spanish cinema unsuitable). Even if you are teaching adult learners, they might feel uncomfortable watching certain scenes in front of strangers.
Second, try to link the audiovisual resource to your teaching. Soon after we learnt the imperative in my class, I showed my pupils a film scene in which the characters kept speaking in commands and asked them to identify examples. You should also design a set of exercises to accompany the audiovisual resource. It can be something as simple as giving them a set of sentences and asking them which ones are not pronounced in the clip. You could give them the lyrics to a song with blanks and ask them to fill them while they listen. They could be asked to describe the characters in the clip, or what they think will happen next in the story.
Third, if the students are familiar with the material, this will increase their curiosity and keep them interested. When I was in high school in Spain, I drove the English language assistant crazy, asking her to help me translate Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” album into Spanish. Nevertheless, she was happy to comply. She understood that my interest in finding out what my favourite singer said implied I was learning the language. Following her example, I used songs from the Spanish version of “Grease” and Disney’s “Aladdin” with my language students many years later. They ended singing along (and with a perfect pronunciation).
On the other end of the spectrum, even the most amusing of clips will be unusable if the students cannot follow it. The actors in a learning resource video are conscious about who their target audience is, so they always make a point about speaking loud and clear. This is not the case in a mainstream clip. Your students will easily lose patience and disconnect if the dialogue is unintelligible. Beware that the actors in the video have good diction and speak slowly enough to be understood. It is also good practice to give them some background information about what they are about to see, or identify difficult words in advance.
Enjoy your listening.
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