Saturday, February 9, 2013

Amara - Lots of potential for MFL teachers

This morning I read a post on Twitter by @saraepperly (a retweet by @ielanguages) about Amara, a website in which you can add subtitles to videos on YouTube. 

The first thought that came to my mind was how I could use this website in my Spanish classes.  I promptly went to the website and created subtitles for the YouTube video "Vampire's Crown" that I used for a lesson last month. HERE is a video with Spanish subtitles.

For several years I have been using short film clips in my upper level classes.  In 2011 I discovered that if I limit the vocabulary while discussing or narrating the videos, they were also useful in the beginning levels.  When I search for videos, my requirements for the videos are:

1. Compelling/interesting
2. Short - preferably not more than 5 minutes
3. Little, if any, talking

The reason I don't want conversations in the video is because many of the videos I use are not Spanish videos and I don't want the students to listen to English.  

With Amara, if I find a video with audio in English, I can turn off the sound completely and insert subtitles for the students to read.  There always remains the possibility of leaving the English audio on with the Spanish subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

Imagine the other ways you can use this site in your MFL classroom.  One idea I want to try in the near future is to show a video without sound that has a conversation.  The students will watch the video and then either as a class, or in small groups (the upper levels), create a dialogue in Spanish and add it into the video.  We can then view the video without sound with the subtitles in Spanish. 

I'm sure the students will be curious as to how their written dialogue compares to the original so I could either show the video again in English or post it to our class Edmodo account and they can watch it at home.  If I post it to Edmodo, an idea for an a class activity the following day, is to compare the original dialogue to the class dialogue to see if there are any similarities.

Also at the Amara website, you'll find many other videos that already have subtitles in many languages.  For example, one of the "most popular" videos with over 100,000 views is "Hans Rosling's 200 Countries...".  Click on the drop down menu to see a list of languages available with subtitles.

That's just a few ideas.  I'm sure other MFL teachers will have even better ones to share.

Happy subtitling!  (Is that a verb?) 

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