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