Engaging Language Learners by Making the Learning Real It is well documented in cognitive science that learning does not take place until it is either shared or applied. Therefore, a major problem in language learning is its lack of reality. By engaging foreign language learners in real activities that use the target language the learning can be enhanced and accelerated. This study covers the use of Videos in the major interest field of third year culinary arts students to help them learn Italian. By using Educational Videos created for other educational aims, such as learning cooking techniques, the language learning becomes part of the engaging activity in their major interest and seems incidental. A study using Jamie Oliver’s Great Escapes to teach Ab Intio Italian to third year culinary students shows great potential for combining students’ major interest with Ab Intio language learning. It can both accelerate the language acquisition and enhance the major subject, especially with vocabulary, since the words presented are those the students already use quite frequently. The documentary is not entirely in Italian, but incorporates many useful words for cooking into the dialogue as techniques are demonstrated visually. Since any text that is focused upon one subject will be limited in vocabulary to that subject, the target set of terms becomes naturally smaller and easier to learn. Rather like scaffolding, this makes a connection with something in which the student has an intense interest creating a reality and allowing the students to actually to share and apply the language to their every day activities. It also has the effect of increasing interest in the language, thus motivating the students. Using Jamie Oliver’s Great Escapes Videos to Teach Ab Intio Italian There are 250 articles in the EBSCO database about Jamie Oliver, so he is definitely a popular television star chef. In looking at the series Jamie’s Great Escapes it is easy to understand why. His shows are not just about cooking, but include history and culture and authentic Italian language. By integrating visual images with written text, digital stories can be used to enhance and accelerate student comprehension (Burmark, 2004; Robin, 2008). Making content and connections relevant to students’ lives helps bring meaning and purpose to instruction in all content areas. Dewey (1912) challenged educators to meet students where they are, and these students are in the kitchen. By using a documentary series that focuses upon what most interest these students, the learners are engaged and motivated to learn what is important to the understanding of their craft. If we look carefully at these documentary episodes we see that they make the language very real. It is part of the cooking and the culture. Food is an intimate part of any culture, as is languages. Therefore it is no surprise that they go well together. They are central to who we are and understanding this idea helps us understand why these videos work so well. The lives of these students center around food. That is the center of their culture as culinary arts students. However, in order to become really great chefs, they must understand the food they cook and the culture in which it developed. In the first episode, Jamie Oliver says, himself, that he went to Italy to learn about the food and culture, to get away from his hectic life and absorb the Italian
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means of teaching first year students ab initio level Italian. The students are honours degree level students in Culinary Arts. The documentary is called 'Jamie Oliver - the Great Escape. I use the DVD version but it is also available on youtube. This documentary is proving very useful on a numbe of different levels…
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