September 2, 2011

Videoblogs Take To All Languages Equally

With Web 2.0, secondary school immigrant students improve their oral skills in second languages, simultaneously using their mother tongue

It is not easy for those school pupils who, besides being adolescents, are immigrants. The fact is that, in Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO-DBH in their Spanish and Basque initials), it is more necessary than ever to be fluent in the local language in order to comprehend concepts and procedures. Moreover, the attitude of an adolescent who is going through the immigration experience may not be ideal. How then can they be motivated? Ms Urtza Garay carried out research into this and she concluded that it is possible to do so using videoblogs in the schools. In this way adolescents can use their mother tongue as well as the Basque language and Spanish simultaneously. Taking the origin of the adolescent into account facilitates his or her integration and they show greater motivation to learn these new, non-mother tongue languages. The PhD thesis, presented at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), is entitled Ahozkotasunaren ikaskuntza-irakaskuntza DBHko ikasle etorkinetan. Deskripzioa, esperimentazioa eta emaitzen azterketa (Studying and teaching orality amongst immigrant DBH students. Description, experimentation and analysis of results).

In the words of the researcher, for immigrant students to assimilate their new context, they have to focus especially on orality of their (now) second languages (Basque and Spanish). To this end, what is proposed is the use of Web 2.0 tools in general and of videoblogs in particular; based on the conclusions drawn from experiments undertaken in conjunction with schools in the Basque province of Bizkaia. Thanks to the tools provided by Web 2.0, apart from having the opportunity of continuing to use their mother tongue, the acquisition of second languages is more entertaining, attractive and meaningful. It also promotes communicative creativity amongst young people.

Different plurilinguism

Schools are taking in ever-increasing numbers of immigrant students, and so plurilingualism has to be understood from a different perspective, according to the thesis. That is to say, the question is not that all students learn three or four languages and the teacher knows all of these, but that the presence of the languages of the immigrant students is assured, even though the teacher does not know them. The immigrants should feel that their language is respected in the school. In this way, according to Ms Garay, they will be more motivated to learn Basque and Spanish, given that emotions are a key factor in acquiring second languages: the student has greater self-esteem and therefore greater passion for learning more languages.

According to the conclusions of the researcher, the Web 2.0 tools in general and the videoblogs in particular are a good solution for facilitating integration. On the one hand, they bring together the presence of the mother tongue of the immigrant pupil with access to resources for learning second languages. On the other, as was corroborated during the research, students were positive as regards Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Active attitude

Bideoblogs provide the possibility of using different languages simultaneously. Besides, use is made of both written and spoken language and, precisely, Ms Garay believes that practicing oral faculties in Basque and Spanish is highly important for recently arrived students in order to fit in as soon as possible. It also foments an active attitude by pupils; a cooperative process of learning and teaching. For example, thanks to this tool, today's immigrant students can help in producing material for those of tomorrow. In this way, the adolescents feel part of the process of creating resources for teaching second languages, and this facilitates their adaptation. In any case, the young people involved in undertaking this research, did not take advantage of all the facilities provided by the videoblog, according to the thesis. For example, they did not make use of the facility for making comments amongst each other, although this could have been merely due to lack of custom.

Ms Garay stressed the need to use videoblogs in schools, as well as Web 2.0 in general. To sum up, if the presence of the languages of immigrant students is guaranteed, they feel respected, and thus it is easier for them to adapt and improve their attitude when learning second languages. This improvement in turn, has to do with the fomenting of a pro-active attitude in learning and teaching and in the use of videoblogs to this end.


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