"Mi Vida Loca" is comprised of twenty-two interactive video episodes filmed in Spain and designed for absolute beginners of Spanish. Each video, which takes about twenty minutes to complete, is accompanied by vocabulary lists and grammar exercises. The human "Guidebook" guides the student throughout, modeling pronunciation and providing translations of the vocabulary and grammar emphasized in each episode. Students can sign up to receive a weekly e-mail, reminding them to view the next video, and receive a certificate after successfully completing the course.
Type of Material:
Interactive, online, video drama Spanish Course for absolute beginners.
"Mi Vida Loca" can be used to provide audible input and examples of authentic language used in daily life in Spain, from ordering drinks to riding the metro and beyond, as well as images of famous Spanish landmarks.This course can be used independently for individual learning or in support of a beginner’s Spanish as a foreign language course.
As an online video-rich experience, Mi Vida Loca requires a broadband connection. Speakers and headphones are required. Although at times the student has to say things out loud, a microphone is not required. Technical requirements are in the user guide and further details available in the trailer. There are explanatory links under the following titles: Video Player guide, Loading Issues, Real Spanish may sound fast, Printouts, Alternative Versions of the Drama, Downloads and DVD’s not available. I tried out the course on PC and Mac, using various browsers (internet explorer, chrome, safari, firefox), and it works well on all of them.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The student will cover the basic learning points for Spanish for beginners: greetings, dealing with simple social situations, ordering at a café, basic directions, meeting and greeting, ordering at a bar, buying a present, times and days, buying travel tickets, booking a room, introductions, the formal ‘you’, shopping for food and basic items, ordering a meal, learning to say ‘I like’, the months, checking in to a hotel, buying clothes and shoes, hiring a car, asking about property, saying s/he is unwell, talking about the weather.
Target Student Population:
The target student populations are secondary and postsecondary, especially those preparing to visit Spain.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No previous knowledge of Spanish is needed. Users should be familiar with working on the internet/online. It is very user friendly.
Each episode is divided into scenes that enable rewinding and fast forwarding short sections of film. At the end of the episode one can navigate through the entire segment using an orange scroll bar at the top. The user can also go to the learning section for extra practice or continue to the next episode.
In the vocabulary review section of each episode, "Phrasebook" helps with pronunciation by providing similar sounds in English. In the practice section, the user can practice grammar with fill-in-the blank and matching exercises.
The videos feature real people speaking at normal speeds. Then, the "phrasebook" interrupts to check comprehension. Phrases are broken down word by word and translated into English. Spanish and English subtitles are available together and are shown discreetly on the screen.
Some students -- especially those accustomed to exclusive use of the target language -- may find that the constant interruptions by "Phrasebook" and his use of English detract from their learning. Viewers in the UK are able to view the non-interactive video episodes.
Although most characters besides "Phrasebook" use authentic language and speak at a natural speed, when the viewer meets Merche in Episode 1 she quickly begins to speak in slow Spanish and broken English. She then informs the viewer that she is going to take a "siesta." While students may meet some people who speak to them in a similar way and/or take siestas, these actions confirm negative stereotypes.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Unlike other video programs, "Mi Vida Loca" involves the student as a character in the film. At the beginning, he or she is asked his or her sex to personalize the experience for the user. As one waits for the video to load, expressions in Spanish with their English equivalent flash on the screen.
The mysterious and elusive actions of Merche add intrigue to the plot.
• Language functions for each episode are clear • Good printouts to support pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary • Students interact by clicking, dragging and dropping, games • Good stand alone e-learning course suitable for young adults • Good end of course test with personalized printable certificate
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
A user guide provides troubleshooting tips and step-by-step instructions in using the site. It also explains the different features of the site, such as handouts and translations.
The "Teaching with 'Mi Vida Loca'" section provides resources for educators, such as a syllabus and lesson plans. Although there were only three comments posted at the time of this review, the comments section for teachers is a potentially useful feature for exchanging ideas and information.
The user posts on "Have your say," on the other hand, are numerous and entertaining to read. Students ask questions and make predictions about the plot.
• Language functions for each episode are clear • Good printouts to support pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary • Students interact by clicking, dragging and dropping, games • Good stand alone e-learning course suitable for young adults • Good end of course test with personalized printable certificate Attractive, easy to use and navigate • Video clip has full screen option • Option to revisit/review sections • Opportunities for practicing vocabulary and phrases orally • Feedback given immediately • Good explanations of use of language and vocabulary • Games to practice vocabulary.
Other Issues and Comments:
The videos are sometimes slow to load. According to the Web site, they make take a minute or more.
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