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Building Vocabulary with Digital Fotos.


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Keywords: spanish, vocabulary
Subject(s): Foreign Language
Grades 8 through 12
Original Author: Jeremy Garner, Affton
We are fortunate to have just received a digital projector as a gift from our mother's club. A digital camera would realize the full potential of the digital projector in our foreign language classes.

I teach exploratory Spanish and Spanish I. For my students to be successful, they must master basic vocabulary. Over the course of the year their Spanish vocabulary grows from "taco" and "hola" to about 500 words.

A digital camera would be an excellent tool for creating almost life size "flash cards" for vocabulary. First, visual images are useful for making the meaning of new words clear to students. I already use pictures that I've downloaded from the internet and show with the digital projector or pictures cut out of magazines. Pictures make learning vocabulary much more engaging for students than the traditional written word flashcards and vocabulary lists.

I see many other advantages with digital image vocabulary "flash cards". First, this would involve them in the process of thinking about the meaning of words and how to visually depict this meaning. Given our understanding of how the brain works, the more personalized associations a student makes with a new word, the more likely it is that he or she will be able to recall the word. With digital photography they would instantly be the subjects of the pictures. A digital camera would make learning Spanish a much more personalized learning experience than just reading about the traditional "cheesy" textbook characters or random pictures cut out of magazines.

Also, with digital photography students can create more than just a flash card, but combine multiple shots to tell their own stories, thus taking their new language from the one-word level to conversation and narration. Modern foreign language textbooks offer pictures and dialogues to introduce new vocabulary, but this limits the discussion you can have about the vocabulary to the one static dialogue, place, or situation created by the textbook author. In order to have authentic communication, it is necessary to be able to recreate the complexity of life in the classroom. This can be done with role plays, but it is often difficult to persuade self-conscious high school students to leave their seats and role play, especially when they have to speak a foreign language. Digital cameras would allow students to recreate real life while taking the focus of the class off them and placing it on the image.

I am not proposing a one time "project" per se, but rather I would use the digital cameras as an integrated part of teaching communication skills in a foreign language. If I were to receive the grant, I would integrate training in using the cameras and the software as part of my curriculum.

I appreciate your consideration of my proposal.

Jeremy Garner
Spanish teacher

P.S. I would gladly submit a class photo, but we have no digital camera with which to take it.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Cause and Effect, Podcasting, Camera Bags, xD Memory Cards, Digital Voice Recorders, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries
Other Items: 2 digital camera, $100 each, total of $200.00
Associated File: 3419.kid