As a former World Language teacher, I know of the importance of hearing the target language as much as possible. In order to internalize a new vocabulary word, you have to hear it at least 70+ times. By hearing I mean not only the sounds of the letters that make up the word, but also the context the word is embedded in… the melody of the sentence that embraces that word… the words that lead up to it and the words that follow it to make meaning and conclude the sentence.
When learning a language, it is especially important to attach a feeling to a word in order to make meaning of how it will be used in the future with maybe other words surrounding it than the ones originally learned. It is equally important to give language learners the opportunity to practice using the words, sentences and melodies and help them be comfortable in pronouncing them and feeling and hearing them come out of their mouth.
Recording a podcast and the EDITING of the podcast is a great tool, especially for language learners to play with the mechanics of the language. It gives the learners the opportunity to see their voices, read the sounds, manipulate the sequence of sentences, sounds can be deleted, edited, emphasized and re-arranged similar than a word processing program can do this with the written word.
Our second graders were learning the story of Purim a few weeks ago. Their teacher and I planned to have the students record the story as a podcast to be shared with their parents on their classroom blog. Students had had experience with podcasting the previous year as they produced Flat Stanley and a Magic Tree House podcast as first graders.
Their Jewish Studies teacher worked with each of them to write individual parts in Hebrew to create a script of the Purim Story. Collaboratively the class had to make sure that the entire story was told between them.
Then we started recording them in Garageband. We recorded each student’s sentence, but were careful to record the sentences completely out of order.
The children loved listening to their recordings over and over again. Once all the parts were recorded it was time for the students to edit the podcast file and move each clip into the correct order to tell the story of Purim.
We connected the computer to the SmartBoard which allowed students to come up to the board to use their fingers in order to find a certain place in the recording, play, pause, start, listen and decide to which position the clip should be moved to.
Again, I would like to emphasize that this project was NOT about using Garageband (the tool). It was NOT about producing a podcast (the genre) . This lesson was about writing a script, listening, comprehension, collaboration, speaking skills, and fluency in the target language. The tool allowed us to manipulate sounds, re-listen, think critically and logically about the best way to present the story- all in the target language. The genre allowed us to share our work, amplify our reach, gain an authentic audience and motivate students to create and be creative.
Even if you don’t speak Hebrew, take a moment and listen to these 7 and 8 year olds. Listen to their fluency, melody and motivation in their voices. Maybe you want to leave them a comment to let them know you “heard” them.