This December, Annenberg/CPB, a joint effort of the Annenberg Foundation and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, will release a DVD version of "Destinos," a popular award-winning video series used to teach Spanish by immersing students in the everyday world of native speakers.
The DVD version has been produced by a team at Brigham Young University under the direction of Michael D. Bush, associate professor of French and Instructional Psychology and Technology.
The BYU team has combined its own expertise in language and DVD authoring technologies with the results of research by the Department of Foreign Languages at the U.S. Air Force Academy to produce a version that includes complete subtitles in Spanish, viewable using DVD technology.
According to Bush, this project is important for several reasons. First is "the availability of 'Destinos' in the convenient and accessible DVD format." Second, "the use of target language subtitles has been shown in research over the years to substantially increase language learning success not only in listening comprehension but also in speaking skills."
Until now, the series of 52 half-hour episodes has primarily been available in videocassette and videodisc formats, supplemented by audiocassettes, video and audio scripts, music CDs and coordinated books. This DVD version of "Destinos" offers rapid access for both teachers and students, more compact packaging of the video materials and higher quality video reproduction than has been possible with VHS formats.
"The DVDs open up possibilities for bar code control for easy classroom use by teachers," said Bush.
"Any teacher who has ever tried to use video in the classroom knows the frustration of not being able to find exactly the needed segment or trying to back up to reshow a short snippet, only to find that the tape has been rewound several minutes past what is needed," said Bush.
"This problem is virtually eliminated with DVD under bar code control. To make this promise a reality, teachers will need software to create the bar codes they wish to use, and they will need a professional DVD player and bar code reader. These items are not cheap, but given the way they facilitate what teachers can do with video, they are certainly worth the trouble and expense," he said.
"Because each episode always ends with suspense, I was actually excited to go to work so I could discover what happened next," said Bob Hudson, a junior at BYU, who worked on the "Destinos" project.
The series is widely used, not only because it implements the telenovela format (a soap-opera-type genre popular in many Spanish-speaking cultures), but also because it introduces the cultures, accents and dialects of Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Puerto Rico.
The story-based technique increases students' understanding of Spanish and provides an appreciation of Hispanic cultures as learners are absorbed by the mysterious and entertaining story.
Annenberg/CPB, which sponsored the initial development of the series along with support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, approached Bush to develop the DVD version. In turn, Bush assembled a team of 10 students to work under the auspices of the ARCLITE Project (Advanced Research in Curriculum for Language Instruction and Technology in Education) at BYU. ARCLITE is currently involved in research and development projects for the National Security Education Program.
Additionally, with a commission provided by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the team also produced a CD-ROM for teaching French to volunteers during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
"Destinos" on DVD will be available through the Annenberg/CPB Web site at *~*http://www.learner.org*~* or at 1-800-LEARNER (1-800-532-7637). Parts 1 and 2 will each consist of six-disc sets and will be available for $275 for each part.
Writer: Emily Baker