Laura Ann Knight and Dr. Michael Bush, Center for Language Studies
When a person visits another country with which they are unfamiliar, it can be hard to understand both the language and the culture of the people. It can be very useful to learn a bit about a country, its people, and language before visiting it. In this project we developed a multimedia computer based program that could be used by business people, tourists, exchange students, or any person interested in being introduced to life in another country. The specific focus of this project was on Turkey.
Before this project began we developed a list of all the topics to cover, their language uses, and the order that they should be taught in, or a scope and sequence. It included the following sixteen lessons that focused on language, culture, and country:
• Government, Economy, and Commerce
• Greetings and Gestures
• General Attitudes
• Meeting People and Visiting
• Personal Appearance
• Diet and Health
• Eating and Table Manners
• Attractions, Recreation, and the Arts
• Holidays and Traditions
• Family, Dating, and Marriage
• Education and Occupations.
The first step was to increase the detail of the lessons by determining specifically which vocabulary and language would be taught in each lesson, along with brainstorming ideas for video sequences and supporting input such as b-roll, pictures, and realia. This step was very important in determining where the scope and sequence may have needed small changes. It was discovered that some lessons would be relatively short while others would be longer than necessary, so some language and cultural components in the scope and sequence were modified. For example, we found that the history lesson taught little language while the geography lesson was packed with too much vocabulary, including days, months, seasons, and weather-related words. In order to make the lessons more equal, the order of the lessons was changed to that the history lesson came before the geography lesson, and vocabulary needed to say the date, such as months and days were taught in the history lesson rather than the geography lesson. We also formulated ideas for interview questions and scenarios of scenes that could be used to teach each of the lesson topics.
Next, individual lesson plans were created. The text needed to explain cultural aspects of the country as well as the activities and videos were determined. Up to this point, all lessons had been created as general templates that were meant to be adapted to different countries including Turkey. We tried to use our experiences in different countries and our knowledge of other cultures to ensure that these lessons could be adapted, but we also kept Turkish in mind as the focus, ensuring that the work we did would be in line with Turkish. With these lesson plans determined, we were able to plan the video, audio, and pictures which we wanted to get while in the Turkey.
While developing lesson plans and ideas, we also focused some of our time in learning how to operate a camera. Since neither of the two of us who would be traveling to the country had any experience with film before, we were given training on the use and care of the equipment. We learned about camera angles, exposure, shots, and audio. This step was critical to our success in gathering the materials needed for the lessons. This is also a useful skill which I can use as I continue to study and grow at BYU.
During the summer, we traveled to both Turkey and France to gather multimedia materials. The French materials would be used for a similar project in French. Once in country, we found that our plans for collecting our materials were not as detailed or as organized as they should have been. We had to take time to develop our plans better, but were able to get many hours of useful material in both languages. We found volunteer speakers of the target language both by contacting people we knew from previous experiences in the country and by asking people we met on the street if they would be willing to help us. We collected language samples by conducting interviews with the native speakers and asking the speakers to act out certain scenes. Interview questions included such questions as, “What is the weather like today?” “How do you get to school or work?” “What is your occupation?” and “What is your favorite holiday?” Scenes that were acted out included buying tickets, meeting new people and being introduced, and making a phone call. We also collected tickets, maps, and other realia along with filming as many aspects of life in the country as possible. These materials can be used as visual supplements to the spoken language that was collected.
Once we returned to Provo with our materials, we were able to rework the lesson plans and edit the materials. We were not able to get as far with the post-production of the materials as I had anticipated, but we continue to work with publishers who express interest in the work that we are doing. With more time and more funding, we will be able to expand upon the lesson plans that we have developed, continue to edit the video, and deliver the final audio, video, pictures, and text to the programmer for programming of the product.
This has been an amazing experience for me, not only in my academic career but also for developing my personal skills. I learned about using multimedia more effectively and about the importance of planning ahead. I also learned more about language teaching pedagogy. I expect that this will be of great use to me in the future. There are few speakers of Turkish in this area and I will likely come across many more chances to teach Turkish.