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Audiovisual Communication and Language Learning  
 
 
 

We could say that a language becomes attractive to learn and necessary to know to the extent in which it is used both internationally and audiovisually.

 
Students understand the requirement of knowing and mastering a modern language in order to connect with others in a globalized world, when they discover the need to learn a language such as English or Spanish so that they can understand messages in the community they belong to or want to belong to. Songs, videos, information on the Internet, social networks, documentaries, films and so on, all form an important part of their lives.

 

It is therefore important to incorporate the use of audiovisual media for learning these languages. This implies the possibility of interacting with students by creating familiar surroundings for communication, in which students can perceive a greater identification with the assimilation and internalization of grammatical and lexical content.

The ability to listen, watch, and often interact not only with the teacher, but also with real or virtual reference points, is a step beyond traditional learning and communication. The results are significantly different and more intense than those that the teacher could achieve without using these means.

 

Different types of voices and pronunciations can create a first moment of confusion in which the teacher must intervene to redirect the students’ knowledge, who may think that they know less than they had "believed" they knew. Thus, the teacher should be the mediator who assumes the role of coach and leader of the students to guide them in the acquisition and understanding of the audiovisual information they receive.

Accustomed to the rhythm, cadence and pronunciation of their teacher, at first the students can only understand some words of the information that they hear through the foreign language audiovisual programme. The teacher's attitude will be key to the success of understanding the messages, reassuring and encouraging the students to continue receiving these stimuli even if they don’t understand much of it. In subsequent activities their understanding will increase, and finally, after a period of time they will manage to understand all or almost all of the audiovisual messages in a language different to their own.

 

With these resources we can overcome the distance barriers between teacher and student, first of all, because the students perceive "the audiovisual medium" to be neutral, and therefore their attitude towards it is much more intense, both because of the lack of physical distance as well as because of  the emotional meaning inherent in a virtual environment. In addition, audiovisual stimuli causes a double effect as it is both visual and auditive which enhances effective learning.


Historically, society has needed common means of communication to enable the flow of information between different parts of empires and cultures. Thus the Greeks adopted the language "koine", which made understanding of the different Hellenic dialects easier. The immense and enduring Roman Empire used Classical Latin as a vehicle of communication between the different people who became part of their empire. Only after the disappearance of Latin did the various Romance languages (or Romance influenced languages) emerge as the use of Latin had been a cohesive element throughout the Empire.

 

Audiovisual means of communication are the real and virtual "Koine" that are currently available to transmit information, and most importantly in language learning, to homogenise different cultures under the same common parameters, the language used.

The teacher should insist on the word "living" to convey to students the usefulness of learning a language. Without doubt, the best way is through the use of the audiovisual and technological resources at our disposal, which allow the teacher to guide the student in a clear manner to practise all that they have learned on a theoretical level.

The immediacy and fluidity of information that is typical of the twenty first century forces us to be in a constant process of change in the way we receive and store data, if we want to be actively competent in an increasingly globalized society. Languages such as English or Spanish, are used daily by millions of people who have the need to communicate with different countries and cultures, regardless of time differences or geographical distances. The role of teachers, therefore, should be in this sense, that of coaches of “competent communicators”, and developers of “people trained to identify and understand avalanches of information”. Apart from being capable of communicating linguistic content, the teacher must also be able to guide students in other methods of acquiring and understanding, ranging from self-learning to virtual interaction.

Learning a modern language is even more interesting when its mediatic use is so necessary. We are all constantly overwhelmed by so many visual stimuli that it is essential to integrate different methodological strategies in our curriculum that allow us to convey the audiovisual life of the language we teach to the students in an appropriate way. The need to know these twenty first century “linguistic codes” will make both the pupils' integration and identification in a real and virtual international community much easier so that it will become as common place as exchanging a greeting with an acquaintance.

Therefore, we must
not only integrate new methodologies, but also the practical use of these resources which will allow the teacher to create new contexts of communication in which the students can manage all their learning skills more easily, and where all the necessary conditions will exist for learning more and in a better way.

Without doubt, nowadays the fact of learning a modern language will represent at the same time the understanding and mastering of the audiovisual aspects of the same language, and the immediacy and possibilities of communication.

 

Luis Madrid Giménez, Headmaster of Lledó I.S.

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