- Peer Review: The LangMedia Spanish Collection
The LangMedia Spanish Collection
- Sep 29, 2005 by World Languages
- The Spanish Collection is part of the LangMedia's Resources for Culture and
Language Study. Langmedia incorporates aspects of the language and culture of
Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Spain. Each country includes the
general topics of Basic Communications, Culture and Social Life, Necessities,
Shopping and Services, and Transportation. As many as six sub-topics may be
included under one heading, totalling as many as 21 sub-headings. most of these
found in basal texts for elementary levels. Withhin each sub-heading, e.g.,
food shopping, there may be several video clips of scenes from everyday life,
still images, and the transcripts in English and Spanish.
- Type of Material:
- Tutorial, Drill and Practice, Reference
- Recommended Uses:
- These materials may be used by independent learners, who plan to study abroad or
to interact with speakers of a target language. The materials are also useful
for vocabulary development and listening comprehension. These can be used for
cross-cultural comparisons and as a springboard for conversation in class.
Instructors can incorporate the site for use with any text program and can use
the site for in-class asynchronous speaking and writing assignments.
- Technical Requirements:
- Fast connection for video streaming. Media or Real player.
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- Users can enhance listening comprehension and cultural awareness through
interaction with authentic and cultural materials.
- Target Student Population:
- The website appears to be geared to beginners and those who have an interest in
traveling to a Spanish-speaking country. Yet, the level of the website is
appropriate for all levels of students, especially intermediate and advanced
learners of Spanish.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
- Listening comprehension training in viewing video clips with exposure in
recognizing cognates, tolerance for ambiguity when listening, and interpreting
- The site attempts to prepare a user for a visit to a Spanish-speaking country,
to help interact with people from that country, and to better understand common
everyday speech as spoken in different parts of the Hispanic world. The
selection of Spanish as spoken in Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and
Spain provide a balance of the major language regions of Castilian Spanish, and
the non-peninsular regions of the Carribean, Mexico and South America.
Each topic provides several video clips of interactions between speakers,
including sub-themes, often, as many of four of the same topic. In addition,
video clips include a variety of listening comprehension proficiency levels
based on language use, language speed, and dialectal expressions.
The content of the material for each country has rich substance, is current and
very engaging. The content accommodates a range of Hispanic cultures and
learning styles. Each of the Spanish-speaking country sites was well-organized
and the layout was the same for each, making them visually clean and very easy
to follow and understand.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- True, to its mission, the site has a commitment to providing authentic materials
depicting differences in regional dialects and language-usage among speakers of
the more commonly taught languages worldwide. The Spanish module reflects a true
real-life listening and cultural exposure. For example traditional textbooks
emphasize the use of Ud. between two people that do not know each other, but the
more natural and modern use of tú in informal and formal situations is everyday
more commonplace. This authenticity is demonstrated in most of the interactions
between speakers in all of the LangMedia video clips.
One can obtain cultural information relating to shopping, basic communication,
food, clothing, art, religion, political views, government, climate, currency,
holidays, holy celebrations, festivals, entertainment, traditions, traveling in
a Spanish-speaking country, and transportation. One student said, This website
is an absolute must for anyone studying Spanish or planning a trip. Another
said, This website was extremely helpful for anyone in college or even in high
school to learn different aspects of other lifestyles.
The video clips include a variety of listening comprehension proficiency levels
based on language use, language speed, and dialectal expressions. This format
permits an instructor to review or teach new materials by being able to spiral
upwards and downwards to arrive at mastery. At the same time, the learner can
quickly grasp the cultural context of day-to-day conversational conventions, and
have a broader context of the hispanic culture.
In listening, students can be helped to understand intonation and stress
patterns, cope with redundancy and noise, develop the skill of predicting, and
use of visual and aural environmental clues for arriving at comprehension. In
addition, the listener develops an understanding of colloquial vocabulary, and
Written scripts enhance the dialectal variations, and extensive practice can be
developed to compare "textbook" grammar patterns vs. the more authentic ones
incorporated into the dialectal variations employed by speakers of differenct
regions. Even for a native speaker of Spanish, the English written scripts
aid in quickly understanding the dialectal variations of Spanish vocabulary,
that at times is quite extensive.
If used with a beginning-level video-based course, the web site can be
coordinated to be used in class prior to viewing the regular class video, e.g.,
"Destinos." The site can be bookmarked to be used as modules in a traditional
and asynchronous (video-based) sections.
In Spanish for Heritage Speaker classes, students will benefit greatly by
recognizing and respecting the variations of Spanish as presented in the
LangMedia module, and at the same time value their own manner of speaking. An
instructor can emphasize the need to value one's individual dialect, but also
expand vocabulary and grammar usage for being understood outside one's own
The application of video, audio, and written scripts is ideal for accomodating
different learning styles because the learner can incorporate his own strengths
while building the weaker area of taking in information for the purposes of
When taught approppriately with sound second language listening methodology, the
LangMedia Spanish module, can aid instructors in successfully providing
realistic preparation for native listening in natural communicative situations.
- An instructor should select the different video and accompanying audioclips
carefully, taking into account the length, level, the intrinsic interest of the
learner, and the purpose of the task. For example, an instructor has to provide
pre-viewing, during, and post viewing activities, incorporate discrete item
listening, and even develop tolerance for background noises.
The instructor may need to introduce the basic pronunciation traits which set
one dialect apart from another, e.g., contrast the dialectal differences between
the Castilian dialect and the Non-Castilian dialects present in the Americas.
Some guidance may be necessary to provide for technical support if materials are
used away from class.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- The authors have emphasized that they have created the videos materials to
maximize sound rather than video quality over slow connections. Nonetheless, the
site provides a very helpful technical support page to guide the users in
accessing quality streamed audio and video for getting the maximum use of the
speech-based materials. The site is very easy to access, use and follow.
Students, who have accessed the site, have found the mix of Spanish and English
very helpful, and easy to refer to English when there is difficulty in
understanding, e.g., dialogues.