In the second decade of the 21st century, no one questions the view that the use of multimedia has great potential to enhance learning and that its effective use is one of the most motivational tools available for language teachers. Based on a survey of thirteen representative Korean language programs in the U.S., we conclude that, despite the consensus surrounding the effectiveness of using films in language education, Korean films have not been properly integrated into the first three levels of KFL classrooms. What’s more, the selection of films and the designing of instructional activities have been ad-hoc at best since there has been no serious discussion about what criteria should be applied in selecting appropriate films for language instruction and about how to identify and develop the types of meaningful activities that correlate with learner proficiency.
Insofar as films provide an enhanced learning experience and a dynamic supplement to traditional formats, we aim to seek and share a new approach to using film in the KFL curriculum. The issues that need immediate attention are (1) What criteria should be applied in the selection process to avoid often-encountered pitfalls such as excessive nationalism, vulgar language, excessive sex/violence, gender stereotypes, and political incorrectness? (2) What is the most effective way to incorporate films into the KFL curriculum? (3) How can instructors exploit films to help develop not only students’ linguistic and functional skills but also their critical thinking and cross-cultural understanding? and (4) How do we incorporate history/culture as far as they are relevant to KFL according to the 5Cs of the ACTFL's National Standards1)?
These concerns are addressed in the present study in the following ways. First, we examine the previous studies on using films in foreign language education and the ways in which films are found beneficial. Then, based on the survey results of thirteen Korean language programs in the U.S. and the findings of previous research, we suggest eight criteria for selecting films for effective and meaningful language learning. The last section of the study discusses more specific ways to utilize films in the language classroom, focusing on the development of intercultural competence. In so doing, four successful examples of the use of films are presented to show how films can be a powerful tool for fostering cultural awareness, critical thinking, production of extended discourse, and intercultural understanding.
1)Please refer to Appendix 1 for detailed description on 5Cs.
For decades teachers in the field of foreign language (FL) and second language (SL) have used visual materials in class with varying degrees of sophistication and success, with the aim of facilitating students’ learning through authentic and natural representations. Visual materials such as films, dramas, documentaries, television news and commercial films constitute invaluable teaching materials as they provide students with rare opportunities to experience unedited language input (Dodds, 1997; Lee, 1999; Rifkin, 2000; Du et al., 2001; Etienne & Sax, 2006; Sturm, 2012). For instance, Dodds (1997) implemented visual elements into an intermediate-level German class and encouraged students to use the vocabulary they heard in small-group discussions and writing assignments. Quite remarkably, after watching segments of about 15 minutes twice in the same week, students improved target language reception from an intermediate-low or intermediate-mid level to an advanced level. In addition, by the end of the semester, most students were able to successfully narrate their versions of the film plot, using appropriate grammar patterns. Under the task-based learning approach (TBL), Rifkin (2000) also reported encouraging results after using four films for one semester in his advanced Russian class and concluded that film was useful for students because the visual and aural components helped them to perform such linguistic functions as “speech narration, description, argument, and hypothesis.” (p.66) Throughout the semester, he also observed the unfolding of a developmental sequence, starting from a string of sentences, growing to a description and a short narration, then to a comparative discussion, all the way to building an argument. Films are also shown to provide students with an opportunity to learn language use in context. As Lee (1999) assumed in her research, a film is a form of colloquial text, reproducing an authentic discourse. Therefore, a film in the a second language (L2) class will provide a specific situation for a communication (Du et al., 2001) and works as “situational parameters or extra-linguistic cues” (p.938) that will guide the student to determine the appropriateness of language in a given situation (Etienne & Sax, 2006).
Furthermore, past research has shown that students enjoyed working with films more than with other texts, thus bringing about a refreshing change from a traditional classroom setting (Dodds, 1997). Films are particularly attractive to young adults since they, as digital natives, are quite used to taking advantage of multimedia for the purposes of learning (Sturm, 2012). Choi and Yi (2012) utilized in their advanced Korean courses a variety of media types (e.g. television dramas, television shows, films, music videos, internet blogs) and concluded that using pop culture, including films, in the classroom is highly motivational.
Within a communicative language teaching (CLT) approach, Sturm (2012) focused on how to implement a film-based pedagogy in L2 (Second Language) courses and argued that a film could be an efficient tool for language teaching because it “evokes a variety of emotional and intellectual responses.” (p.255) It also enables students to interpret cultural meanings properly, rehearse them in class, and meaningfully apply them their own lives. (Tognozzi, 2010). The advocates believe that films function as a bridge between contexts inside and outside of the classroom (Choi & Yi, 2012) and can be utilized not only for their classroom activities as writing, discussion, or presentation (Dodds, 1997) but also as a means of communication in a realistic context (Sturm, 2012).
Finally, visual materials, especially films, are a user-friendly tool for FL and SL teachers as well. They lend themselves to a variety of options (1) in its format-online streaming, video-tape, and DVD, (2) in available contents and topics, and (3) for applicable tasks in pedagogical situations (Han, 2005). Also they are relatively short compared to a series of television dramas or television shows, and thus less subject to time constraints.
In May 2014, we conducted an online survey to understand the current practices in the use of Korean films in Korean language courses in U.S. universities. An online survey tool,
Survey questions were developed on the basis of a thorough review of previous literature and they focused particularly on selection criteria and the range of practical applications of Korean films in the classroom. Survey questions included but were not limited to the following:
The data, then, were qualitatively analyzed without a statistical handling due to the small sample size.
Out of thirteen universities, twelve respondents indicated that they used Korean films in class either to expose students to authentic language usage or to provide them with necessary cultural input. The respondents also mentioned that the use of Korean films yields level-specific benefits; providing linguistic inputs and raising students' interest in Korean language. Those responses were cited as the most important benefits for lower-level courses, while exposing students to sociocultural inputs was the primary goal for upper-level courses.
As a result, level specific concerns also manifested themselves in selecting films. Although the content of a film was the primary consideration and was most frequently mentioned as the reason for choosing or not choosing a film, the respondents mentioned that linguistic issues such as proficiency level and linguistic information contained in the movie were carefully considered for lower-level courses. On the other hand, films with rich social, cultural and/or historical contexts were favored for upper-level courses as they provide excellent teaching opportunities by way of discussion topics, essay themes and presentation tasks. In addition to these criteria, the respondents indicated that they exclude films they deem boring, widely watched, or too controversial.
(2) below summarizes some of the failures mentioned in the survey.
Most participants expected their lower level students to gain vocabulary, grammar, listening skills and cultural knowledge through the use of films while very few answered that they expected the students in lower level class to improve their writing skills. On the other hand, students in advanced level courses were expected to improve their discussion/presentation skills as well as gain overall content and topic knowledge. Most participants responded that, in order to achieve the stated objectives, they designed comprehension questions and vocabulary recognition activities for lower level students, while a few answered that in addition they used plot summary activities, group discussions, and role playing. One respondent answered that she developed activities to predict the next scenes after watching a segment of a film in the lower level classroom. These efforts made by Korean teachers in the survey embody a sequential model of video viewing by “an exercise sequence for video use that proceeds from visual to verbal systems appropriate for beginning language instruction” (Swaffar and Vlatten, 1997; 180) For upper level classes, along with comprehension questions, plot summaries, presentations, article summaries, and culture identification activities, group discussions including online discussions and response papers were reported to be primarily used.
To date, there are only a handful of studies that deal with the selection criteria for a Korean language classroom. Lee (1999) employs an exclusion strategy for screening out inappropriate films for the language classroom, on the basis of the following eight negative factors.
Lee (1999) recommends such films as
More recently, Kim (2009) proposes four criteria by shifting the focus to the learner: (1) Student Interest, (2) Ease of Understanding, (3) Common Cultural Experience, and (4) Authenticity.
The following two sets of films, all of which were released since 1990, were recommended as they have been cited as effective tools in facilitating language acquisition and promoting cultural awareness.
It is highly likely that many teachers in the U.S. do not agree with the film lists recommended above, nor accepting the rationale for selecting these particular films. We believe it is due to a rather one-dimensional approach to the selection. Based on the results of our survey as well as our classroom experiences, we propose the following criteria in fully taking into account both the instructor’s and the learner’s perspectives. After all, the instructor has to have a enthusiasm and the belief that the film in question serves intended purposes in the language classroom. In addition, the students should respond positively to the viewing experience to make the viewing worthwhile.
An important underlying current behind the above criteria is the consideration of the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Standards. The second C of the 5Cs in the ACTFL Standards is Culture that comes after Communication. It is well-received by now that language cannot be acquired in a vacuum. Learning a language necessarily means gaining an understanding of the culture(s) where the language is spoken. Appropriate use of films in the language classroom provides rich cultural contexts so that “Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of Korean Culture” (the National Standards for Korean Language, 2012: 522)
2)We do not agree with this categorical exclusion of animations as we have successfully used several episodes of Yeongsimi (1990, <<영심이>>, KBS) and the entire Green Days (2011, <<소중한 날의 꿈>>) in beginning and intermediate courses. 3)Joint Security Area (2000, <<공동경비구역 JSA>>) is a film that can be used successfully both in a language course and in a Korean cinema/culture course, as long as its complicated flash-back plot is understood by students. It provides an appropriate context to inform students of North-South unification and socialist economy vs. capitalist economy. The flashback scenes before the investigation by Major Jean are effective in showing common brotherhood and humanity and the limits of reconciliation and friendship. This film is featured prominently in Korean pedagogy (e.g. Cheon, forthcoming. Language and Culture of Korea through Film) as well as in courses of Korean history and East Asia (e.g. Global East Asia, Rutgers University Signature Course) 4)Following our criteria, we complied our recommendations: for lower-level, Cast away on the Moon (2009, <<김씨표류기>>), Please Teach Me English (2004, <<영어완전정복>>), South of the Border (2006, <<국경의 남쪽>>), Radio Star (2006, <<라디오 스타>>), and Speed Scandal (2009, <<과속스캔들>>), and for advanced-level, Punch (2011, <<완득이>>), Joint Security Area (2000, <<공동경비구역 JSA>>), The President’'s Barber (2004, <<효자동 이발사>>), and My Heart (1999, <<정>>) 5)Please see Appendix 2 for the result of a student survey conducted at Rutgers university in Aprin 2014.
The films included in Korean cinema courses chosen on the basis of the goals set up for specific courses, but, despite some overlaps, our concerns as language pedagogues are somewhat different from those of content course instructors.
As the use of film with the specific aim of expanding vocabulary, grammar patterns, and listening skills is well documented in previous research, it is not pertinent to our discussion here. Next to the primary goal of Communication, researchers in the field of foreign language education have come to realize that Culture is an integral part of language and should be incorporated into any language curriculum. In our study, the beneficial use of film is particularly prominent in integrating culture into language learning. As mentioned in the previous sections, films offer rich and holistic contexts in which the target culture is presented, practiced and reinforced In this section, we suggest four pedagogical activities related to Standard 2.1, “Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of Korean culture,” among the 5Cs (p. 522).
For students who have not yet developed advanced proficiency, we suggest that the teacher focuses on raising students’ cultural awareness rather than initiating in-depth discussions, the latter being more appropriate for advanced learners capable of sustaining organized discourse in the target language. By simply presenting culture-conditioned images and having students describe what they see, the students’ cultural competence will be enhanced to a considerable extent with the instructor’s careful planning. At Rutgers University, for example, eighteen students in the intermediate heritage course watched South of the Border (2006, <<국경의 남쪽>>), as an introduction to the national division, and answered the following questions in isolated sentences.
After watching the movie, students were able to recognize a number of cultural practices of two Koreas pertaining to the political systems, as well as more tangible, cultural products such as nayngmyen, ‘cold buckwheat noodles,’ a symbol of the North Korean cuisine. Most of them learned about North Korean defectors for the first time, and got to experience in an almost authentic way cultural and linguistic differences between North and South Korea, which could not be done effectively in a course solely relying on written material (especially in a language textbook). (9) below comes from two students’ reactions to the movie.
As the student reactions show, films provide students with rare opportunities in an intermediate class to produce meaningful utterances and to experiment with language while experiencing an unfamiliar culture. What is particularly worth noting is that one student professed to gain a new and increased interest in learning about Korean culture. See (10) below.
For advanced students, we suggest that the teacher use movies that introduce increasingly more complex issues of the target culture, stimulating active discussion in class.6) In other words, the teacher should be able to connect issues raised by the movie to classroom activities in order to promote students’ critical thinking and discussion skills. Equally important, we recommend that the teacher select movies that allow the student to connect cultural issues in the target culture to their own lives. Creating personal meanings and engaging in critical thinking will make the language learning experience much more relevant than passively receiving information the teacher hands out. The second activity we present in this section utilizes the 2013 movie
Through this assignment, students practiced, in extended discourse, interpreting and expressing abstract concepts and perspectives prompted by the film. They also had an opportunity to present their opinions and develop their arguments, a requirement for reaching Superior Level of proficiency according to the ACTFL’s guidelines. It was extremely encouraging to note that, as observed by Rifkin’s (2000), a few students manifested a developmental sequence throughout the semester: (1) using strings of sentences, (2) narration, description and comparison, and, finally, (3) argument. In this way we also confirm the common observation that films offer excellent contextualization not only for learning about the target culture but also for developing linguistic proficiency beyond Advanced Level.
Our third example demonstrates how Standard 2.1 on Culture and Standard 4.2 on Comparison, “Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of Korean culture and their own,” can be addressed at the same time. The same group of fourth-year students at the University of Pennsylvania watched the 2014 documentary movie
Related to religious beliefs and practices, the above student compared her own culture with the Shamanistic beliefs of Korea, and explained how the two practices are different in paragraph-length discourse.
Three students answered Question 8 “여러분의 삶과 연관된 부분이 있습니까?” by comparing their own culture with
Our last example demonstrates tangible outcomes of cultural learning that are explicitly related to Standard 3.1 and 3.2, “Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the Korean language” and “Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through Korean language and culture,” respectively. More specifically, by watching a movie, students were able to deepen their understanding of Korean history on particular topics. (15) below shows that the movie was useful to engage students in the discussion of historical aspects of Korean culture from a more critical point of view. In this excerpt, the student answered Question 6, “영화를 보기 전에는 몰랐던 한국 사회나 문화가 있습니까?”
(16) shows a student’s answer to Question 7, “어떻게 한국의 근현대사가 영화에 투영되어 있습니까?” Drawing upon the shaman Kim Kumhwa’s extraordinary life, students took a step further to uncover historical facts that are often inaccurately and subjectively portrayed in blockbuster movies based on historical events.
These findings are limited to an analysis of student responses to three activities conducted in two Korean classes. We believe, however, that the above examples provide ample evidence that films yield significant benefits for teaching the target culture and facilitating critical thinking and intercultural insights, in addition to the usual goal of promoting communication skills in a foreign language classroom. Films are also shown to be particularly useful and effective in revealing abstract values and beliefs of the target culture beyond tangible culture products such as food, clothing, and holidays as well as in providing rich contextual and potent audiovisual basis for in-depth discussion. More importantly, using films enables educators to incorporate multiple goals of teaching foreign languages. For example, films can serve to compare and contrast the target culture with the student’s own. They also enable students to expand and deepen their knowledge in other disciplines such as history and politics. What is particularly worth noting is that students in our study were able to move beyond their comfort zones and dare to develop intercultural understanding. As documented above, students showed intellectual curiosity and openness towards unfamiliar cultural practices. Along with culture-specific knowledge, these attitudinal changes are essential in developing intercultural competence to interact with different cultures. Principled and well-structured use of film, therefore, greatly facilitates both linguistic and intercultural competence, as well as individual enrichment.
In addition, we hope that our position on film selection encourages an eclectic approach to the use of film in L2 teaching, by leaving ample room for the instructor’s judgment and needs for cultural education. We touched on topics that are relevant to the students in order for them to connect what they learn from the movie with their own lives. At the same time, however, we selected movies that cause a strong sense of curiosity about a new culture, and reveal important insights about the culture.
Contrary to the choice of ‘safe’ films for language learners, we experimented with films such as
Finally, it should be noted that, in our data, the majority of advanced-level learners consists of heritage learners of Korean who already have a strong cultural connection to their heritage language. These students come in with a different motivation from that of non-heritage learners. Identity is usually a significant issue for heritage students, especially when conflicting values and beliefs of the two or more cultures they straddle are at work. Developing intercultural competence in these contexts involves identity negotiations, which, in turn, inherently entails affective and attitudinal changes. Therefore, we suggest that teaching a heritage language is changing ‘the whole person,’ and, in doing so, film can bring about holistic, multifaceted changes on both of the affective and intellectual levels beyond cultural enrichment.
6)In the first two levels of courses, there are equal number of heritage and non-heritage students. The comments cited in this paper from lower levels are not marked for ethnic identity.
The films included in Korean cinema courses are of great value in “content” courses as a tool to examine contemporary society through cinematic representations, often with a thematic emphasis on tradition, colonialism, femininity/masculinity, national division, and military dictatorship.7) However, KFL instructors in our survey identified two sets of distinct goals for using films in a language curriculum--one for lower-level courses and another for upper-level courses. Under the consensus that films provide an enhanced learning experience, we proposed more principled criteria for pedagogical film selection and explored a new approach to incorporating film in the college KFL curriculum. Exemplifying the film use for narrow and fragmented linguistic purposes, although valuable in their own ways, would not be meaningful to include in this paper where our focus lies in enhancing general linguistic and cultural awareness rather than in providing natural input for particular grammatical forms.. Instead, we focused on the use of films for the specific purpose of developing intercultural competence. We hope that the examples in Section 5 demonstrate concrete ways in which the films selected by the suggested criteria were actually used as a means for students to articulate their enhanced cultural knowledge. We admit that further research is needed in order to determine whether the selection criteria actually yields measurable results by collecting data on student and teacher experiences.
7)e.g. “The Guest in Room Guest and Mother (1978, <<사랑방 손님과 어머니>>),” “The Aimless Bullet (1961, <<오발탄>>),” “The Housemaid (1960, <<하녀>>),” “Poetry (2010, <<시>>),” “Old Boy (2003, <<올드보이>>),” “Sopyonje (1993, <<서편제>>,” “Joint Security Area (2000, <<공동경비구역 JSA>>),” “A Peppermint Candy (1999, <<박하사탕>>),” “A Petal (1996, <<꽃잎>>),” “Tell Me Something (1999),” “The Host (2006, <<괴물>>),” “Take Care of My Cat (2001, <<고양이를 부탁해>>),” “Secret Sunshine (2007, <<밀양>>)”