Portuguese in Brazil: Langmedia Practical Language Series is one of many web sites produced by the Five College Foreign Language Media Archive. In the author's own words: "LangMedia has a special mission to provide materials in languages less-commonly offered by colleges and universities in the United States. The site also has a commitment to providing authentic materials depicting differences in regional dialects and language-usage among speakers of the more commonly taught languages worldwide."
As is the case with other language sites produced by LangMedia, the French site consists of modules on practical topics such as Culture and Social Life, Food and Lodging, Necessities, Shopping and Services, and Transportation. Each module contains an cultural note in English accompanied by an image which describes that concept. In many modules, there are also videos that deal with the given topic. They are unscripted authentic dialogues that pertain to the particular topic. Transcripts are provided in Portuguese and in English in most modules. In some cases, there is also thematic vocabulary with audio files for pronunciation practice.
The videographers for the project were mostly international students provided with camcorders by the LangMedia group. The same students were involved in the written portions as well, although some transcripts were reviewed by language experts. The result is culturally authentic insight into French as it is spoken in France.
Type of Material:
Real Player. less than 56k modem not recommended.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Users can enhance cultural awareness through observation of linguistic and paralinguistic cues. Listening comprehension can also be enhanced.
Target Student Population:
Intermediate to Advanced learners of French.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Although English and French transcripts are provided, some dialogues might require some French language proficiency for full comprehension.
LangMedia is one of a kind in its presentation of authentic videoclips on everyday topics. Students will enjoy a glimpse at French people interacting in authentic cultural settings. The web site provides materials for meaningful listening comprehension activities. Listening to native speakers is frequently one of the most difficult tasks for L2 learners.Users will find a wide range of speakers, male and female, and a variety of age groups. Different regions of France are also represented. Most conversations flow naturally and at a normal rate of speech, although it is possible to find clips that go more slowly. (Under Entertainment, the "I am Going to Teach You a Game" video is articulated slowly and clearly. In the same category, the video on going to the movies is equally clear.)
The cultural information in English that precedes the videos provides the learner with an orientation to the culture before encountering native speakers directly. Travelers will appreciate this feature. Some topics include still images as well as the videos.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The current LangMedia policy is for "private individuals engaged in independent language study and for ready preview by classroom language instructors or lab directors." Institutions can obtain local copies at reasonable cost. According to LangMedia, "local institutional copies are necessary because the LangMedia web server does not have the capability to support large numbers of simultaneous users." Instructors can assign the LangMedia modules to students for use outside of the classrooom to supplement their regular language program. Independent language learners,
particularly those moving to France for professional reasons, will find a wealth of useful materials in LangMedia.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
LangMedia is very easy to use. The navigation and design is consistent across languages and topics. There is adequate technical help informaton on the site.
The videographers are not necessarily professional, thus the technical quality of individual videos varies.
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