Improving Fluency in English through a Collaborative Video-making Project

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By Xiomara Valverde
(Translated and condensed by James Cordonero)

Learning English in a non-English speaking country poses a serious challenge for learners. Fluency and pronunciation require special practice so that students can develop both skills.

One of the main objectives of this paper is to assess the effectiveness that video production has as a learning strategy to develop fluency and pronunciation in English.

In this research study, implementing a cooperative learning project based on methodological tools to create video clips proved to be an innovative and effective learning technique as it contributed to enhancing students’ fluency and pronunciation in the target language.

1. Video production and language learning
The production of videos is one of the proposed activities included in the project. In order to produce a video, students have to work cooperatively. Both techniques are intended to improve fluency and pronunciation. A previous research study showed that the same type of project turned out to be effective.

Masats, Dooly, and Costa (2009:000346) assume that, “… video making is a learning tool because it engages students in a cooperative project in which they need to take individual responsibilities to fulfil core tasks. Similarly, it is an excellent opportunity for integrating all students in the class project.”

There are many reports about projects based on movie-making tasks  aimed at learning English, improving fluency and pronunciation as well as different oral communication skills (Carkin2004; Hardison and Sonchaeng 2005: cited in: Carney and Foss, 2008). Some of the techniques used in teaching pronunciation include the use of video and audio recordings as a means of self-monitoring (Rajadurai; sf: 2).

Another important aspect worth mentioning is that using videos helps students to correct their own grammar and pronunciation mistakes by comparing the previous recordings with the latest versions (Hirata, SF). According to McNulty y Lazarevic(sf), video-making projects can contribute to enhancing students’ pronunciation. In another research study undertaken by Ortiz (Ortiz, et al., 2012; cited in: McNulty and Lazarevic), a video-based project was used to improve fluency and pronunciation among students of foreign languages.

2. Materials and Methods
This project was carried out on the university campus located in Jinotepe, Carazo. The participants involved in the project were the undergraduate English majors in their junior year, who used the language lab as their classroom. These students attend classes just on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; however, they only study English as a foreign language from 8:00 a.m. to 12:25 p-m. The level of proficiency they have reached, according to the European Framework, is B2. Their ages range from 18 to 30 years old. The rest of the participants included the following: senior students from the TEFL undergraduate degree program, instructors as well as some students from other degree programs such as systems engineering, and tourism.

Based on empirical knowledge, the students were sampled according to the following criteria: a weak student with problems in pronunciation and fluency, an intermediate level student and an advanced one (see tables below).

The instructor (researcher) used the language laboratory to gather most of the information such as recordings and some class videos, which were all shot on the campus premises. The video clips featured the description of the place and the different degree programs offered by the university. After recording the video clips, the students had class sessions where they analyzed the contents, corrected mistakes and, whenever necessary, recorded again. This process took place several times until the video clips were significantly improved.

The researcher implemented the comparative method, which is a technique used to compare data as many as times as necessary in order to determine whether or not the students improved their fluency and pronunciation. The early audio and video recordings were compared to the latest versions to identify mistakes and difficulties that the students faced during the video-making process as well as to gauge their progress throughout the different video recordings.

3. Conclusions
The following conclusions can be drawn from this study.  The academic progress of individual students who participated in this study is shown in the tables below.
Student #1 (weak)

Criteria Audio Recording Video 1-2 Final Video
Fluency Good Very good Excellent
Pronunciation Good Very good Very good

Student #2 (Intermediate)

Criteria Audio Recording Video 1-2 Final Video
Fluency Good Excellent Excellent
Pronunciation Needs improvement Excellent Excellent

Student #3 (Advanced)

Criteria Audio Recording Video 1-2 Final Video
Fluency Very Good Excellent Excellent
Pronunciation Excellent Excellent Excellent

This study was carried out taking into consideration opinions of well-known researchers who claim that the making of a collaborative video helps students to improve both their fluency and pronunciation.

Considering these ideas and analyzing the results of the use of collaborative videos, we conclude the following:

  • The use of collaborative videos aimed at improving fluency and pronunciation is highly effective.  During the process and the making of different videos, the instructor was able to observe the students working in teams, practicing many times, and helping one another.  Cooperative and collaborative approaches were applied to reach the learning objectives.
  • It is very productive to ask students to work on a collaborative video since it helps them to improve their fluency and pronunciation. According to the results of this study, two out of three of the participants created a video as a learning tool, and their performance improved considerably. One of the students became more fluent and had better pronunciation, and the other one improved his intonation.
  • This study demonstrates that the use of videos was very effective to improve a beginner’s and an intermediate student’s English pronunciation and fluency. However, it is not productive for an advanced student as at this level, the student is fluent enough.
  • This research poses that both approaches can be used to improve fluency and pronunciation. Some researchers such as Celce Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin (2007) reaffirm this fact and suggest that by having students work in groups of three they can easily provide feedback to one another.
  • There is another researcher who puts forward the same idea: one of the features of the project-based learning is to develop the communicative activities in pairs or in groups so as to give students the chance to use the target language and develop fluency (Richards, 2006).
  • It is very productive to use a video as a learning tool if it is intended to improve fluency and pronunciation. The students who participated in this video project improved their fluency and pronunciation, especially those who had a low proficiency level.
  • It is worth- mentioning that this project provided a great opportunity for students to watch the video, analyze the mistakes made during the rehearsals, and then correct them. The students made different videos before presenting them. Because of this repetitive process, the students improved both their fluency and pronunciation.

References
Carney, N., & Foss, P. (2008). Student-produced video: Two approaches. English Teaching Forum, 14-19.

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Goodwin, J. M. (2007). Teaching pronunciation A reference for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hirata, Y. (Sin Fecha). Hokkai-Gakuen Organization of knowledge Ubiquitous through Gaining Archives. Recuperado el 07 de Mayo de 2013, de Hokkai-Gakuen Organization of knowledge Ubiquitous through Gaining Archives: http://hokuga.hgu.jp/dspace/bitstream/123456789/852/1 /KOUGAKU-36-11.pdf

Masats, M. D., Dooly, M., & Costa, X. (6-8 de Julio de 2009). EDU LEARN 09. Retrieved on June 11,2013,from EDU LEARN 09 DIVIS: http://divisproject.eu/attachments/083_EDULEARN_09_DI
VIS.pdf

McNulty, A., & Lazarevic, B. (s.f.). Best practices in using video technology to promote second language acquisition. Chicago and New York, United States.

Rajadurai, J. (s.f.). An investigation of the effectiveness of teaching pronunciation to malasyan TESL students. Malasya.

Richards, J. C. (2006). Communicative language teaching today. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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