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rociobanos

What is revoicing and why should you use it when teaching languages?

5/12/2014 - rociobanos

What is revoicing?

One of the main aims of the ClipFlair Project is to promote Foreign Language Learning (FLL) through revoicing and captioning/subtitling. Most people are familiar with subtitling/captioning but, what is revoicing?
When it comes to the translation of audiovisual material, we normally distinguish between two types of translation modalities: subtitling/captioning & revoicing. In subtitling, the original to be translated (e.g. dialogue, text on screen, music, etc.) is rendered in writing. Thus, there is a change of mode (from spoken to written). However, in revoicing, the original to be translated is rendered acoustically and therefore there is no change of mode. In the same way that there are different types of subtitles (for the deaf, for language learning, etc.), there are different revoicing modalities such as dubbing, voiceover, audio description, free commentary, etc. (I will talk about these in a different post).

Within ClipFlair, we understand revoicing as adding speech to a clip through dubbing, voiceover, audio description, free-commentary, etc., with the purpose of learning a foreign language.

Why use revoicing to teach/learn a foreign language?

Some authors and FLL teachers have highlighted the advantages of revoicing activities to improve pronunciation and prosodic features. However, revoicing enables working on a wide range of skills when learning a foreign language:

1. Speaking
. By revoicing a clip in the L2, students can work on phonetic competence, rhythm, stress and intonation. The clip to be revoiced could be either mute, in the mother tongue of the learner, or in the same L2. This will all depend on the activity we want to design (do we want students to repeat what they hear? Do we want students to practice what they have learned in class? Do we want students to learn how to say new things?, etc.), and the level of our students.

2. Listening. If the clip we want students to revoice includes audio in the L2, we can tailor our activity so that students work on listening. They might be asked to revoice the clip in the end, but first they will have to listen to the audio and work on their understanding of general and/or specific information.

3. Writing. We could ask students to transcribe the whole dialogue or to fill in the gaps before revoicing it. In this case, they will also be working on writing skills. If the clip we work on is in their native language, students could be asked to translate the dialogue into the L2. If the clip is muted or has no dialogue, they could narrate or comment on what is happening on screen, or describe the images as audiodescribers do for blind and partially-sighted audiences. In any case, they will be working on register, style, cohesion, grammar, etc.

4. Reading. What if we provided students with a muted clip and the script to be revoiced in writing? In this case, they will also have to work on reading comprehension before actually producing their speech.

In addition to these traditional skills, revoicing activities can promote inter-cultural awareness not only through images, but also through paralanguage, intonation, etc. Revoicing activities also promote audiovisual literacy, which encompasses a complex set of abilities, especially the ability to understand a wide range of forms of communication, be it body language, pictures, maps, or video.
So, isn’t revoicing a great way to teach/learn a foreign language? For ideas of revoicing activities to use in your classes, visit ClipFlair gallery at http://gallery.clipflair.net/activity/ and filter the activities by selecting any of the categories under Tasks – Revoicing.  

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