Evaluating a Journal Article: "If You Can Read This, Thank TV"

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Summary


The journal article that I choose to evaluate was called, If You Can Read This, Thank TV written by Milton Goldman. This article was about using captioned television to teach English to second language learners.


This tool allows the teacher to present the English language to foreign speakers in a visually stimulating avenue that will motivate students to learn through sounds, context, and the reading. This is a very rich and positive multi-sensory teaching tool. The use of captions is interesting and fundamentally important for students to get familiar with because it reaches students on so many sensory levels. It is interesting to note that when students become familiar with the television characters, they have a higher level of concentration for listening and reading the captions. The students are seeing, hearing, listening, reading, and participating along with the characters and captions. The activities in this article include all aspects of language acquisition visual representation, physical response, auditory reception, print, oral production, and kinesthetic expression (p.16).


Each learning level uses different television shows that would be of interest to the students. For example, children watch Sesame Street, Intermediates watch Reading Rainbow, and adults watch Family Matters. The author suggests that adults enjoy watching comedies because it is more interesting and motivating for them. Cartoon and comedy programs have high frequency vocabulary, they are not lengthy, and do not put too many demands on story understanding.


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There are some very good ideas given to introduce students to English. For example, the teacher writes the words on the board before previewing the video to introduce these new words to students and so that they become familiar with them and will be watch for them in the captions. Another suggestion would be to freeze the scene to view the words longer and become more familiar with them.


Teachers always want to move students beyond what they know and can do this with captions in a creative way.


There are additional assignments that can be added on for children so that their viewing is richer. Assignments like stopping the tape and having students predict the outcome, write the remaining dialogue, or act out the incomplete scene. The teachers should always be asking students questions to push them beyond.


The final suggestion made by Goldman was to use karaoke. This also allows students to read and hear words, participate in saying them, and still have lots of fun.


Reflection/ Reaction


I think that karaoke would be a great teaching tool because the words are already there and it is fun. One drawback that I see is the shyness of students who do not want to embarrass themselves especially if they do not feel confident with the language.


I think that this approach to integrating technology into second language acquisition is a great idea. It meets the students on so many sensory levels making it easier for students to soak in information. I think that this medium relaxes the anxiety held by many second language learners. Using captions is actually really easy. After acquiring a television (TVs that are older than 180 are equipped with caption options) most likely it already has caption options on it. The use of captions does provide the audience with such a sensory rich environment that it helps students learn on many levels. When children watch Sesame Street, they do not just listen, watch, and read, they are also able to interact with themselves and other children. They say laughter brings people together and I think that this is true. I think so because people will feel more comfortable with one another when a connection is made. Connections can be made through laughing at a funny comedy in an English class together or finding themselves in the same situation with a common goal.


One concern of mine is the rapid movement of technology. People are still using televisions but the uses of VCRs are declining and are switching to DVDs. VCRs do record programs well, but DVD record-able technology is not readable available and is quite expressive. So as we progress in technology, the uses of captions will change and be different. I cannot even say what they will progress to next, but I do believe that it will be more convenient but not more affordable.


As I read this article, I became more excited about teaching ESL students. I think that students who have fun while learning will learn more efficiently and retain the information longer. Captioned television does address all the communicative abilities of listening, speaking, reading, and writing at all levels (p.18). I am excited to integrate captioned television into my ESL classroom.


References


Goldman, Milton (16, Winter). If you can read this, Thank TV. TESOL Journal, 6(),


15-18.


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