This is a big (and good) question. Perhaps it is best answered by peeling back the layers a bit and discussing comprehensible input (CI). What is it?
Professor Stephen Krashen is the person who first used this term in the 1970's to explain his theory of language acquisition. If you are new to comprehensible input, check out this short video on YouTube. He uses German as an example to highlight his point. See how you do with his lesson!
There are many good resources on comprehensible input for shifting your classes. We will be blogging on those frequently.
You will notice once you start using more video for CI your students' listening skills grow quickly. Combined with reading, your students' growth in speaking moves at a fast rate as well.
It can be challenging for a few students but it is worth the effort. Authentic video is highly engaging. Students will feel excited and rewarded that they can watch it. Once they get wrapped up in a great storyline, they will continue to be motivated. As the teacher supporting them, remind them that as in real life, look for visual cues, tone of voice, gestures, and the context of the scene to help follow the storyline.
They will also understand more once they get to class and hear discussion. Within a few weeks, they won't be yearning for English subtitles any longer. And when they see those long fill in the blank verb paragraphs you may be giving on tests, don't worry-- they get the context right away. Our "Salón de Profesores" (faculty lounge) will be filled with activities for the classroom, test, quizzes, and the like, coming for August 2018. You can share with teachers at other schools if you like or simply use our creations.
Don't forget to show your users of any video the differentiated speed tool that accompanies some media players, for example on YouTube (but sadly not yet in Netflix). Where these are present, the user can slow down the video speed to make it more differentiated and comprehensible to non-native speakers. In our EduNovela.com media player, we recommend that once the credits roll and the music ends, the user switches to 0.75 speed. Yet, if you have heritage speakers in your classroom mixed in with non natives, they will prefer to listen at 100%. If a student needs to focus on a particular word or sentence (or even as a targeted listening activity), the user can slow down to 0.50 speed. This is the same on YouTube for any videos you might want to show in class.
When using the prototype projects for EduNovela.com, projects that included both reading and a continuing telenovela storyline, instructors reported a high rate of growth for both listening and speaking skills. They also reported a notable difference in their classes' outcomes the following year if not using the program.
Our teachers in our test schools and our authors will be blogging about this in the months to come. Stay tuned!
We were asked this question recently at ACTFL: Why are there not more people of color on Spanish TV? I wish we could answer this easily, but not unlike American TV and film, there is definitely not a great diversity of peoples shown on TV.
We did recently come across a few diverse music videos we'd love to share with you for your own classes. Music seems to be the only industry that truly shows the Spanish speaking world as is, so as teachers we all seem to embrace it. And everyone loves music. One video we are really into right now is Sofia by Alvaro Soler filmed in La Habana, Cuba. The dancing is amazing! (Be careful to preview Sofia before you show it in your classes as there is a little bit of daring dancing and clothing.) Though not quite as diverse as Sofia, we also really like Robarte un beso (so cute). Here in Southern California we not only enjoy our Taco Tuesdays after school with colleagues, but we really like Miércoles de música in Spanish classes. My first Miércoles de música experiences were in Sevilla, at la Universidad de Sevilla. My own students love fan Humberto Contreras's posts for Just Dance in Spanish. We often use this as a break in a long block! Though Daddy Yankee's videos are diverse they are not really always appropriate for the classroom so Just Dance is helpful. Check out a lot of great teachers on Pinterest in their Wednesday music activities, though the title of the day varies.
We also came across a multi-cultural Venezuelan youth telenovela from 2009 online called Amor urbano on YouTube. You may want to show some snippets to your students. (Be sure to preview it for yourselves.) There are a few other shows featuring characters of color, though not many. As we find them and preview them, we will make you aware. There are a few new series coming out from Latin America with diverse characters, for 2018. We will update you.
Latina beauty brands do offer more of an array of products that consider diversity. We recently read on Apple News that "Latina entrepreneurs have undoubtedly been on the rise. Time reported in 2016 there’s been a 137 percent increase in Latina-owned businesses, a larger rise than in any other demographic in the U.S. Chicas also seem to be cornering the market on creating quality beauty brands, having founded cosmetic lines that have received recognition and made a lasting impression on the beauty world with their inclusive shades and innovative products." We also found Melt cosmetics owned by a young Mexican-American woman and offering a multi-cultural array of shades. Your students may want to read up on her as she apparently is the make-up guru for Rihanna. Here is an article on NBC news.
EduNovela.com has invited a guest blogger, Jenniffer Whyte to join us.
Jenniffer is a native Dominican
high school teacher who grew up in New York and Miami. She teaches Spanish in Anniston, Alabama at
The Donoho School. We can't wait to see what exciting topics she will bring to the blog.
Jenniffer is a frequent presenter on adding more genuine multi-culturalism to Spanish classes. Feel free
to post questions for her as well.
The EduNovela.com Team
We had some questions at ACTFL about how we managed to fit a 42 episode video and reading program into our school year in both college and high school.
We loved Destinos when it was fresh (and I still love Destinos!-- did you know it is online free?) but it was a bit long at 54 episodes. Additionally, it had quite a lot of video for one sitting. This was great for those of us who learned from Destinos in the 1990's before the pace of life became faster. If you are a non teacher who is reading this to learn Spanish, check out Destinos online. It is fabulous for adult learners.
All of our EduNovela series will differ greatly in content, but one aspect they have in common is that they are delivered into manageable chunks. Each episode has about 15 minutes of video and takes approximately 30 minutes total to complete. This varies since it is 1:1 and the user controls much of his or her experience. Though, note that most students finish in under 30 minutes. (As you see the samples, you'll notice the first episode is slightly longer for the sake of interest of the storyline.)
We also offer an auditorium style viewing of the Grand Finale if you wish! We cannot tell you how much fun this has been over the years, even having students come dressed as their favorite characters.
In college, we have students watch purely outside the classroom if only meeting in class 3 days per week. It is a great way to connect the students with language on the days we do not have classes, and even for snow days. My students always said it was the best part of any homework and they waited until they were done with all other homework to watch the show. If you teach purely online or blended learning, you will love using our programs. They have a short quiz that gets submitted directly to the instructor's grade book. It includes questions from the two short readings as well as the video for a well-thought-out experience. Next day in class, the fun really begins! Students come in chatting and leave excited to do their work. (You can also spread a few out over the long holidays. They can watch from almost any where in the world.)
I vary how I assign lessons when I use this methodology with high school. Given the great number of times we meet face to face, I can use it in class once per week. I can assign these outside of class, and even on days with a sub, thus there is no issue of getting to all 42 done, only the issue of there not being enough lessons to satisfy the students!
What I skip now in my textbook is a lot of boring stuff. They learn the word for pencil, pen, notebook and the like from me using it daily and teaching only in Spanish. Using names of characters that do not exist and that my students cannot connect with is no longer an issue. With the storytelling capacity this methodology brings, I create sentences to teach vocabulary, do verb lessons, or even any grammar such as the object pronouns. My classes almost teach themselves due to the storytelling nature of the programs.
We are most excited about
our free teacher-shared activities.
Not only will our authors share free activities in
el Salón de Profesores, but we hope
teachers will join in as well. We really envision
this will keep down expenses for those of you
strapped to those expensive online sites and
textbooks. (As a parent, I can't imagine paying
$180 again for my freshman in high school's
For us, the storyline of the telenovela or series is the base of much conversation in the classroom, but certainly not all, in both high school and college classes. We tried to find TV series that connect to the real lives of your students or the times we are living in, even if the series is historical in nature.
Feel free to reach out to us at any time with more questions like this.
The Edunovela.com Team
Why use a continuing series or a telenovela in your classes of all levels of Spanish for an entire academic year? Our programs are flexible and fit a variety of schedules and configurations for in class work, student work out of the classroom, blended learning, or purely online use.
When the prototype was first created for Elementary college Spanish, it was imperative to find a show that had a range of characters of all ages and types along with compare and contrast amongst the characters. Typical telenovelas certainly have opposing characters but many storylines can be bad and very formulaic. We are so excited to have these new, more modern series and novelas for your students. (Our first projects for High School and College 1 both just ended their broadcast in 2017!) They have been picked with great care to reflect the Spanish-speaking world in a more positive light than found in older telenovelas (extremely poor vs. extremely rich and the like), or the more violent narco series and shows that are popular with native audiences. This is not to say any fun is lost from what a typical telenovela might offer, but you will be pleasantly surprised to see that some Spanish TV now favors more a continuing series format than a telenovela such as our parents’ generation enjoyed.
In August of 2017, I interviewed Prof. Sue Pechter of Northwestern University, and Senior Editor of EduNovela.com. We discussed the use of the prototype project developed by a colleague of Sue's, a year-long authentic telenovela, in her Spanish 101 classes for many years. Here are her responses:
When using the prototype program for EduNovela.com, why was it so successful for so many years? Sue replied, “The continuing storyline really engaged the students. “The show included interesting multigenerational characters with scenes of daily life (eating, celebrations, shopping, school, etc.) which effectively worked to both tie in and broaden our text topics.”
Why is a continuing series or telenovela more engaging than something made for the classroom? Sue replied " The show was exciting and edited to leave cliffhangers at the end of many episodes. The students actually looked forward to doing their Spanish homework! They came in to class chatting about the previous episode and speculating about what was going to happen. They were very relieved to discover a Spanish telenovela has a conclusion. After the year long course, many students in second year Spanish mentioned that they missed using the novela.”
Was your teaching made easier with a continuing series for an entire academic year? Sue replied, "In class, it gave us a topic to use for discussion along with activities that interested everyone. I normally find it challenging to find topics that engage the whole class-– not everyone cares about the weekend sports events, music, etc. It greatly enhanced student participation during class."
Thank you, Sue for your insights!
New Features for Fall 2018
What new features are coming to EduNovela.com for August 2018? In addition to the 42 episodes of each TV series for high school Spanish 1 and college 1, we will have a variety of other features. First, we will have many blog posts covering all topics about best practices in the Spanish classroom, flipping your classroom, using authentic media, the process of getting students comfortable with and trained to learn with authentic media.
We will have 84 original readings with multi-speed, user-controlled audio in each project; that's 2 readings for each episode! We will also offer a free FlipGrid for students to record in the presentational and in the interpersonal modes, responding to our authors' prompts for each episode.
Next, we will have links to reasonably priced workbooks and grammar tools in the case that you would like to do away with your expensive online or paper textbooks. We will also recommend outside tools that we think are great like Talk Abroad for the interpersonal mode. More about Talk Abroad and other good tools will be featured in this blog space later on.
In our blogs, we will discuss important topics such as how to incorporate more multi-culturalism into your classroom. Our guest blogger Jenniffer Whyte, a Dominican Spanish high school teacher from Florida, will be posting her winning activities for the multi-cultural Spanish classroom.
Our various authors will be answering questions for you as well. If you are in a Christian school, do you worry about showing authentic media? As a former Assistant Principal of a parochial high school in California, I certainly did. Check out our blog posts and coming webinars from EduNovela authors like Oscar González of Concordia High School in Nebraska.
A really fun feature will be our shared "Faculty Lounge," where our authors will be posting their own exercises for each lesson free of charge. We encourage teachers to post and share their own activities for free as well. Think of it as a free Teachers Pay Teachers. Speaking of TPT, you'll find our exercises on TPT for free as well!
With all these new features, you might consider doing away with your expensive texts. EduNovela.com can be used as an engaging supplement to your classroom curriculum or it can be the most valuable tool in your teacher toolbox. In looking at the pricing of all of the online textbooks, I get a huge pain in the pit of my stomach thinking of asking parents or schools to pay those fees for mediocre materials.
In my own high school classes, my parents (including me for my own daughter) are asked to pay $180 per year for a supersite access for high school Spanish. There is an attempt to have some video for students, but it is far from engaging. My friends teaching at prestigious universities are now using websites and textbooks costing families upwards of $300 for one year of Spanish!
Whether you are thinking of "ditching the textbook" in Fall of 2018 or using EduNovela.com TV programs as a supplement, call us at 1-833-U-NOVELA or email us for a consultation. You can use our quick contact form on this website.
EduNovela.com authors offer their insights!