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Language Learning & Technology http://llt.msu.edu/issues/february2011/emerging.pdf

February 2011, Volume 15, Number 1 pp. 10–16

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

YOUTUBE FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGES: YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS VIDEO

Joseph M. Terantino Kennesaw State University

INTRODUCTION “Have you seen this video?” “You have to see this video.”

For the students belonging to the digital natives (Prensky, 2001), these phrases are used frequently to express their enthusiasm and overwhelming interest in new and fascinating videos that they have found via the Internet. These commonplace phrases also demonstrate their genuine desire to share and discuss what they have found.

Inspired by Chinnery’s (2008) column in which he describes Google-Assisted Language Learning, this column aims to accomplish a similar feat with regard to YouTube. The descriptions offered here are geared towards integrating the practice of creating, watching, and sharing YouTube videos, which appeals to the current generation of students, into foreign language teaching and learning. To accomplish this, there is a description of the brief history of YouTube and its impact on society, and of the defining characteristics of the digital natives and their unique educational needs. This is followed by an explanation of how YouTube can be used to bridge the gap between satisfying the particular educational needs of the students and meeting the demands of foreign language education.

THE HISTORY OF YOUTUBE

In February of 2005, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim founded YouTube with the domain name http://www.youtube.com. The site was created as a forum for people to create and share short video clips online. One year later Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion. How popular is YouTube now? Consider that on a daily basis there are more than two billion views (YouTube Facts & Figures). In addition, 51 percent of YouTube viewers go to YouTube weekly, and 52 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds often share videos with other people (YouTube Fact Sheet).

Solomon and Schrum (2007) describe “The World’s First Web Band” as a microcosm for the impact YouTube has had on society as a whole. Consider that the members of this Web band never met each other in person, created a music video, and recruited a drummer completely online. Initially, they did not even know each other’s names. To date there have been over 2 million views of their first YouTube video, Internet Killed the Video Star. In closing, Solomon and Schrum ask the question also posed by this article, “what does this mean for education?”

Obviously, YouTube is used for varying purposes, the majority of which are not educationally relevant. For example, many people use YouTube simply as a form of entertainment. Someone records a person in a funny prank, posts it to YouTube, and others go to check it out. In some cases there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of viewers. For other users YouTube is a venue for sharing family videos, posting a work demonstration, advertising a company or product, or providing students access to media from across the globe. It is this educational value of YouTube that will be explored here with particular emphasis on foreign language education.

Copyright © 2011, ISSN 1094-3501

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