Abdul-Mageed, M. M. (2008, April 24-27). New Tools, New Schools: Using YouTube to Teach Foreign Languages. A paper presented at the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages'11th International Conference. Wisconsin: Madison, USA.
The use of authentic video inside as well as outside the language learning classroom can be very rewarding and can help accelerate students’ learning rates and put them face to face with ‘real’ language spoken in ‘real’ speech communities. The number of online videos generally, and YouTube videos specifically, have recently phenomenally grown and their variety has unprecedentedly increased. Thus, it is perhaps no longer acceptable to ignore these videos and not to make use of them in foreign language learning programs. This paper hence focuses on deploying YouTube videos in the teaching as well as the learning of foreign languages generally and less commonly taught languages particularly. Arabic is used as a medium of exemplification in this paper.
There are many reasons why YouTube videos should be considered as a powerful pedagogical tool. First, these videos are readily available online and will cost institutions almost nothing if these were to be integrated in the curricula. Second, a majority of the videos are authentic, and authenticity is to be valued in language learning, if learners are ever to master the target language as it is spoken by its native speakers. Variety of the videos available is a third strand: with the huge number of videos available, instructors can find material on almost any language situation. Fourth, the material increases ceaselessly and phenomenally, which guarantees the continuing improvement of the resources and even more variety of the resources. Fifth, these resources are easy to use and with some simple training both instructors and students can make the best out of them. Sixth, the videos are accessible to anyone with a fairly good Internet connection, which makes them ideal not only within the language learning classroom, but also for resource centers and autonomous learning goals.
One significant issue is how these can be selected, and prepared for use either inside or outside the classroom. Obviously, the phenomenal growth of the YouTube site makes searching for a specific kind of content a bit complicated and a simple search will yield a huge number of videos. Another issue is how to make sure that such videos will be readily accessible for use inside the classroom, or how learners can easily locate certain content for autonomous learning. Deriving insights from various disciplines including linguistics, information science and education, I offer a number of solutions to these problems. Specific ways of using the videos in foreign language instruction are also provided along with the associated pedagogical underpinnings. Finally, I discuss the issue of instructor as well as student literacies.
Most importantly, I suggest specific and practical ways of how to use YouTube for collaborative language learning by the various language programs across the nation. Such suggestions, if applied, are expected to have a notable pedagogical pay off.