Using Film in Foreign Language Instruction at Columbia (and Beyond!)


The cutting edge in educational technology, circa 1938.

Why Teach with Film?

While there may be substantive debate about the value of video in language education, there are many arguments favoring film as a resource for instruction.  In his 1999 article “Why use video? A teacher’s perspective,” Peter Arthur asserts that the use of film clips in the language classroom can:

  • give students realistic models to imitate for role-play
  • increase awareness of other cultures by teaching appropriateness and suitability
  • strengthen audio/visual linguistic perceptions simultaneously
  • widen the classroom repertoire and range of activities
  • help utilize the latest technology to facilitate language learning
  • teach direct observation of the paralinguistic features found in association with the target language
  • provide relevant scenarios and language for students of language for special purposes 
  • offer a visual reinforcement of the target language and can lower anxiety when practicing the skill of listening.

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Free Technology: Transcribing audio interviews with Transcriber and Audacity

Welcome to the first post in our new “Free Technology” blog series. In this series we will look at some of the best free technologies out there and how you might use these tools to teach or study languages. In today’s post we will look at Transcriber and Audacity, two tools that help with transcribing interviews from audio files.

A word about “free”

Before we look at the tools it is worth mentioning what kind of “Free Technology” you can expect in this series. There are many definitions of the word “free” and in education you run into different ones all the time. There are the services that are “free” until you start using them regularly, those that are free to you as a teacher but charge money of your students and colleagues at other institutions, and there are all those services online that are free as long as you let them follow you while you teach or track your students as they learn.

This series is about a different kind of free, “free” as in “freedom”. We will be looking at technology built by free and open source communities and meant to be shared. These are tools with no up-sell, no hidden fees, and no registrations required, the kind of tools you can give to your students with confidence. Audacity and Transcriber are great examples of such tools. [Read more…]

Using iMovie to Create Digital Stories

Digital stories are a wonderful vehicle for creatively framing a multimedia narrative with spoken or written text superimposed over image and video, and many language instructors assign these types of video projects as part of their curriculum. At the instructors’ requests, we frequently offer iMovie tutorials for students at the LRC for precisely these kinds of projects. Our learning spaces in the International Affairs Building are well-equipped for students to create their digital stories using iMovie.

In this post, we’ve assembled some great resources for faculty and students who are using iMovie. [Read more…]

Uploading Images and Videos to your WordPress or EdBlog Site

Due to limited server space, EdBlogs at Columbia has an upload quota of 100 MB. If your blog exceeds that quota, it will be difficult to add additional content without removing older content. However, there are a few simple strategies that can allow us to bypass this obstacle.  [Read more…]

Interview with Stéphane Charitos on the Fulbright International Education Administrator (FIEA) Program in France

BW_StephaneEarlier last year, LRC Director Stéphane Charitos was selected as a recipient of a Fulbright award for the 2013 US-France Fulbright International Education Administrator (FIEA) Program. As part of the award, he spent two weeks in France in October with the other eleven recipients visiting a number of institutions of higher learning and meeting with administrators, faculty, researchers, and students.

The FIEA program is coordinated by Fulbright in six different countries (France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea and the UK) and provides award winners to learn about their host country’s education system, helping to establish networks of U.S. and international colleagues in order to play a role in internationalization initiatives on their own campuses. While some of the programs have been running for some time now, this was the first time Fulbright sent grantees to France.

The Fulbright International Education Administrators Program is an excellent opportunity for Columbia administrators (and faculty with adminιstrative experience) to get an in-depth look at the higher education system, culture and society of the host country and provides an invigorating opportunity for networking with international and U.S. colleagues. All participants gain a new perspective on the need to internationalize U.S. campuses and insight into how it can be done.

The upcoming program seminars are in Germany and France. Both programs will be conducted over two weeks in October 2014, and the deadline for application is February 3, 2014. For more information on each of these programs, see the LRC’s Site.

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Blogs versus Wikis: Which Should I Use?

In speaking with language faculty here at the LRC, we often field this question. Sometimes the answer is clear-cut, but there are often “grey areas”, depending on the goals of a collaborative writing project. One place to start is getting a clear idea of how the two models differ, and how they are similar. This fictitious debate humorously frames a broad comparison of the two paradigms.

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Use VLC to Bypass DVD Region Code Restrictions

Language instructors will often import media from other parts of the world, and when they return to the United States, they find they can no longer play the media they purchased abroad. This is because of the international system of DVD region codes.

A map of the international DVD region codes (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A map of the international DVD region codes (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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