We get this question every once in a while from teachers. We do not buy into any one methodology or approach. This system we developed surfaced after many years and internal studies over those years of trying various ways to deliver authentic media to students, primarily freshmen and sophomores at Northwestern University in the late 1990's and early 2000's.
Group showings of authentic media were not working for us, yet we liked using authentic media. Students saw the action and loved the use of real TV shows, but their comprehension was very low. They could still discuss the storyline if given the vocabulary, nevertheless their speaking did not improve because they were not developing the vocabulary that they needed nor were they hearing/seeing grammar in action. Thus we made the switch to 1:1 learning in 2000.
The core motivator for us was "How do we make authentic video comprehensible to students?" and then next, "How do we get them to discuss it?" at their own level, and if applicable, "How can they use what they heard in relation to discussing their own lives?" We saw the value of authentic media: super high engagement (motivation to learn!) and seeing/hearing input from native speakers as if they were eavesdropping in on conversations. As a result, we wanted to get students speaking in the classroom. Our students, like most college students who use EduNovela.com, accessed our programs outside of class time as a remote "lab." A short side note: it is worth a mention that we also wanted them to be accessing authentic media on their own outside of class without it being assigned as homework. For example, we hoped they would seek out TV, movies, music and anything they could read. And they did! Our yearly surveys showed that our students were motivated to do even more work on their own outside of the assigned video.
We liked the fundamental ideas behind Comprehensible Input, but we did want to get students talking. Everyone does not agree with us that basic Spanish students should be talking. We love that our students can chat about the video storylines in Spanish in class and then we can use that as a point of departure for anything applicable to that week's goals or tasks. Now, we also like a quick spontaneous online conversation to be posted on a tool like FlipGrid. Later, classmates can go back and comment as a follow-up.
Our ideas behind EduNovela.com are practical. We used best practices from research and we applied them to our own need. Little academic jargon is presented in our Teacher and Curriculum guides found in El salón de los profesores. We do not claim to be academics in the ivory tower doing research on the benefits of our products. We are all real Spanish teachers-- professors, lecturers, and high school instructors who believe in the power of a great continuing story in the classroom.
If you are a high school teacher, you may ask, is EduNovela.com one of those tools that I can have my students use in class and I can sit back and grade papers? NO! This is not a babysitting tool. It requires the teacher to be a very active part of the class. 1:1 learning does not exclude the teacher. If you use an EduNovela.com storyline in your classes as part of the class time, be sure to stop your students every segment or two to check in. There are comprehension questions, but do also pull in something from your current textbook chapter. It should not be used disconnected from other items you are utilizing in class that week. There will be a great camaraderie that comes from using a single, continuing storyline in your classes!
In colleges, your students will watch out of class, nonetheless, use it as a tool to build a camaraderie amongst students, get them talking in class, and milk the storyline as best you can. Make it applicable to your students' real lives. They won't all travel to a hotel in northern Spain where there is a serial killer, but many do travel. There is so much that can be used in your daily textbook and grammar chat: meals, families, relationships, ser vs. estar, etc. See the Gran Hotel Teacher and Curriculum guide for ideas!
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